Home means different things to different people, but to each of us, it brings up connotations of safety, comfort and familiarity. Home is often matched with thoughts of family. Interestingly enough, when I think of home, the first place that comes to mind is my dad's house in Manoa, not my primary residence in San Diego. I suppose that is the family angle working its magic. Ironically, my father's current house is not the one I grew up in either, although I still consider Kailua more of my hometown than Manoa. Since I was born, my father has only lived in three homes which makes it all so simple for him. Counting that first house where I spent the first 2 years of my life, but not counting my college dorms, I have lived in 14 different places for at least 3 months or more over the course of my 36 years. That's a lot of moving!
Three big events occur on my radar in January, and the first was the HURT 100 trail race. I had booked a flight months ago when I entered the lottery, and while I actually made it through the wait list, I decided to pass up the chance to torture myself and crew/pace instead. I did a little recon trip through the course (it's 5 loops which makes it almost sane to do one as a training run/hike/stumble) on Thursday which happened to be the day after a flash flood advisory, and I wondered to myself how things would be on race day. Saturday came around quickly, and I spent the day/evening watching/cheering/corrupting Alyssa with stories of banyan trees, the mongoose, the end of Pauoa Flats trail which has amazing views of Nuuanu and the Pali, and a few other tidbits from my childhood. The Makiki trail system has become a bit of a home for me when I visit my father, a place to escape and get some exercise in without having to worry about sunburns, traffic, clocks, deadlines, or stress.
Following HURT, I returned to San Diego to participate in the Carlsbad marathon and prepare for my annual party. Carlsbad is a special event for me since the 1999 race marks the day I decided I wanted to move to San Diego permanently. I consider Carlsbad my "home" course since I have run it for 12 years now and logged hundreds of miles cycling and running sections of the roads. Our running team also handles pace duty, so it's a must-do event, even if I didn't host the post-party. This year our captain ironically wanted me to pace one of our top superstars, Joey, who was shooting for a trials qualifying 2:46. When fit, 2:46 would take a lot of work from me, and in fact I've only run that fast once before on the course. On top of all that, I really haven't been doing any focused training, so I expected a meltdown, and sure enough, by mile 17 I got popped off the back of the pack of 3 women. Joey held on to an excellent 2:48 debut and 3rd place which I think is a great step towards making it to the trials. Perhaps I will have to train just to be able to try to pace her sometime in the future. After a short walk break, Morgan caught up to me and between her and Luc who was pacing the half marathon, I got enough motivation to finish the race off.
The annual post-party wound up being a little different than last year, but also very similar. Some of the same faces, some new faces, and a generally large crowd, definitely bigger than last year, which consumed every morsel of food that was available. I chuckled to myself as I saw the disorganized clutter of utensils, napkins, and plates that I had strewn about the space, since I did not have any tables to put food on, and since I'm really not a very polished host. The back patio was complete with a couch that has recently been replaced, and poached tv off the neighbors since I haven't yet ponied up for the 2nd cable box. Okwaro, one of our top runners, spent most of the day covering the grill and cooking up my chicken, commonly known as Dave's Dirty Yardbird. The keg of stone IPA somehow lasted longer than the food, and Hunter seemed exhausted at the end of the festivities, in part from a few guest dogs who kept him entertained, and in part from all of the stimulus. Carmela cooked a pork loin which she had been talking about doing for months, and it turned out pretty good, not that any of the scavengers really cared that much. The concept behind this party comes in part from my childhood neighbor's superbowl parties at his house and his mom's house (they owned the entire street at one point, so his family is very well known and all the uncles, aunties, cousins, etc would come over, watch the game, and enjoy the festivities). The other inspiration comes from the Alstons, who would throw a New Year's day party at their Lanikai beach house with 3 huge pots of chilli and would typically include some tackle football on the beach. Those two events taught me the basic skills that are needed to attempt to pull off a large party, and while each year ends up being a bit different, I have to say that I've really enjoyed opening up my home to all of my friends and showing it off, no matter how finished it is or isnt at the time of the party.
Ironically, the only house that I actually own is no longer one I consider my home since I signed a 3 year lease with a young family. It feels strange visiting a property I own and not being able to consider it my home anymore. I do miss it, and the trails nearby, and the joy of single-story dwellings and feeling so cozy, but I definitely prefer the location of the Encinitas house I share with Paul and Trevor to that remote and sleepy house in Vista.
I guess I still don't feel like Encinitas is my home town, but perhaps that will come with time. The year I spent in Solana Beach definitely did not make me comfortable enough to call that town "home" nor the 4 years in Carlsbad or 4 in Vista. I suppose if I create a family, the home we live in and the town that home is located in will take on a new level of significance to me. In the meantime, I've really enjoyed my monthly trips to Hawaii, to spend time working, eating, and co-existing with my father in his space, in his home, on an island that still feels very much like home, even after living elsewhere for the past 18 years. I suppose that the root of the concept of home to me is based in family, and my family starts with my father. He shares the majority of my strengths and weaknesses, my tendencies, my insanity, and my work ethic. In fact, he is to blame for all of those traits, not only for their genetic components, but for his instructions and examples that were ingrained in me as I grew up. Interestingly enough, my father returns for a high school reunion this year, his 50th, to West Hempstead. I will ask him once he returns how much of a connection he still feels to that location and to the home he grew up in.