I get home every day and let out a breath I never realize I’ve been holding. It’s apparently exhausting to paste a smile on my face and venture out into the wide world every day when my natural state is homebody. I shed my outer clothes like a caterpillar heading into a cocoon, and I often narrate it as well. I could be on TV. Then I find my comfort outfit, usually consisting of either sweatpants or pajama pants and my huge, all-consuming robe. Then I sink into my couch for a few moments of peace. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood indeed.
Mister Rogers always started off his shows by entering his own house, changing his own outer clothing, and singing a little ditty the whole time so you knew exactly how happy he felt getting home. That’s because to him home was an escape hatch that led to imagination, and more importantly, some alone time. Even though he invited us in on a daily basis, it really was just his private time playing with his toys and telling stories to himself he must have recounted a million times previously.
He always seemed to feel comfortable, showing off a smile from the start that only got brighter the longer he was home. Even though he must have had issues, bills, family troubles, and the like, it was as if that time right after he got home was an impregnable zone. For those thirty minutes it was just him and his appreciation for the intricacies of his own imagination and nothing more. And it was calming for us to watch him as kids too, that routine ingrained in our brains as being one of comfort and relaxation. That’s probably why I find peace in that same type of routine.
Today I did the same thing I usually do when I walked in the door. I left my fleece on the hook behind my bedroom door, extracted my large robe from the next hook over, slipped it on and sighed audibly. It’s that release of pent-up tension that I value probably more than most things in life. It’s being here at home, wrapped up safely in my cocoon where the outside world seldom ventures, waiting to turn into a butterfly and take to the air eventually, when I feel ready. That’s my imagination taking wing. Just like Mr. Rogers.
Now, if I could just find a nice red sweater like his I’d really be in business.