Over Labor Day weekend, I flew back to Missouri to celebrate the engagement of one of my dearest friends, Monica.
In many ways I was nervous to go back to the place that held such sadness and sorrow in the weeks (even months) leading up to my departure. I equate those memories to a broken record. I think about it daily. The wounds are still fresh, the cuts still deep. I really didn’t want to do anything to exacerbate that but I generously reminded myself that home also held a lot of good memories. I didn’t want to let the bad outweigh the good or let my fear prevent me from lavishing one of my favorite people with all the happiness and joy I felt for her. So I went. I stayed up late and I ate at all my favorite places and saw all the people I loved but didn’t get to say goodbye to and I laughed so hard my cheeks hurt. Then I laughed some more. It was a trip so good for my soul but also one that solidified the fact that Missouri no longer felt like “home” to me. Familiar and lovely, yes, but not home.
I was thinking about the concept of home on my flight back to Wisconsin and pulled out my writing practice notebook to start listing everything that came to mind. As part of counseling I’ve been doing 10 minute timed writings on a daily basis and as often as I need to. The premise is that you write only what comes to mind. You aren’t worried about sentence structure or being creative or even making sense. The intent is to let the words flow from brain through arm to paper. It’s a means of getting outside a structured mind. Go wherever you feel like going. Don’t think, just write. I often choose quick topics like “I feel” or “I don’t feel” or “I remember” or “I don’t remember”. This time I chose “Home is”. It isn’t particularly good or well thought out or even long. It’s just what I wrote in the moment, unedited. I wanted to share it because of what it made me realize: home is wherever we make it.
Home is the sea and the stars. It’s kissing a 100 year old tree and running on dirt covered paths through the woods. It’s a small quiet room and a girl moving her pen as the words she writes take on a life of their own. Home is curling up against Miley, my head moving in sync with her deep, shallow breaths. It’s smiling when she starts to snore. Home is the coolness of a hardwood floor in the summer. The sound of a fan as it spins round and round. Home is make my cheeks hurt laughter with Monica. It’s in the unconditional happiness I feel for her happiness and in the way our bodies move like cyclones on the dance floor. Home is sitting around the dinner table with my parents and in the smell of the chewing tobacco grandpa always coveted. Sometimes I even find home in the memories I wish to strike from my very existence. It’s in a soft kiss on the lips or a gentle squeeze of my hand. Then I see it. Home is not home anymore. It is transient and impermanent and will go wherever I yearn to go. Home lives inside of me now. It is my shadow. It is whatever I want it to be.