For those of you who read these letters as much (or more) for news of Barbara than for what’s on my mind — though from my point of view the two lines of thought are very much intermingled and entangled — this one begins with some very good news: we are back in Pittsburgh. Barbara is in full and clean remission, and we are down to a once a month checkin at Sloan Kettering.

On Friday morning we packed up and, with three cats in the car and 6 months of accumulated paraphernalia in our rental mini van, made our way westward across New Jersey and through much of Pennsylvania, finally arriving at 424 Hastings St a little after 9 pm. The cats jumped out of the car to explore  the neighborhood, returning shortly to tell us nothing much had changed in their absence and it was good to be back home. And we were filled with the realization that we too were home at last and moving on, as Neil Simon once wrote, to Chapter Two. Or is it chapter 4, 10, or 15. Thirty some years together makes for a very long and eventful novel, a long running mini-series, or an epic play. Lots of plots and subplots, some comic diversions, a bit of drama, but each season seems to arrive at a satisfying conclusion, while offering the promise of further adventures ahead and with just enough uncertainty to keep things interesting.

So, onward. This  is what I’m thinking about this morning as I sit in the waiting room at the Subaru dealer while they investigate all the yellow lights that appeared on our dashboard the first time I started the car, the result, no doubt, of Barbara’s little Forester sitting idle and unstarted since early September.

A few days ago, Terry asked what did I think about writing this week’s piece about the importance of home — the physical home we were coming back to, the artistic home that is Irondale. I told him that sounded interesting, but that the promise I had made to myself when I started writing these letters was that I would always write about what did I find was emerging from my subconscious at the moment each week that I sat down quieted my mind and allowed it to dictate to me what it wanted to talk about at that exact moment. And I found that the home theme had stayed with me, not as one place, not as John Denver’s West Virginia or Colorado, but as a crazy quilt of little places in many places where I feel accepted and know that all I have to do there is be me-the back room at Building on Bond where I have often written these letters, Jay’s corner store on Atlantic, Greenlight Bookstore, Gail’s cafe in Belsize Park, the cafe at the Schaubuhne in Berlin, the Passover dinner at Terry and Vicky’s, any rehearsal hall where I’m directing any play, and any place where I’m sitting down with my best pals Terry and the wonderful, amazing Barbara whose joy of life and thirst for adventure has led me to find a home in so many places around the world. Thanks so much to both of you for always making me feel so at home wherever.

“Any place I hang my hat”……. As long as you’re there.

 

Jim Niesen

irondale

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