Reflection from a journey home
It’s summertime and I sit with him at a table in a coffee shop in the airport, people are all around us and I’m doing my best to fight back tears.
A deep grief is welling up inside of me.
Part fear, part longing, part insecurity.
I fear that I have become stagnant. That I’ve been caught in an eddy and everything around me is rushing forward, and I’m bobbing up-and-down, an illusion of movement, but really I’m staying in the same place.
We’re leaving my family’s home and heading back to the city that we’ve been living in. I want to show him just how much better “my” home is than the city, because I want us to move there one day. An easy leap for me. He tells me it’s something he wants, too. But that fear. It springs up even if I try to push it back. What if he changes his mind.
I can see from his face that this conversation is wearing on him. There are only so many times he feels he can assure me. That he only has his words to try to convey that his intentions are aligned with my own.
Somehow, someway, I fear I will become stuck in a city forever. That I won’t get to wake up to the mountains. That the choice is out of my control. Well, I’ve never had anyone steering the ship alongside me before.
I fear that we’re wasting our youth behind desks that are aging our bodies faster than either of us had planned. I fear we’ll become stuck because staying is easy and the money is good. I fear that I won’t live a life fully realized.
“We’re going to have a life filled with adventure,” he says to me.
And through my tears, like a small child, I nod my head and wipe at my tear-stained cheeks.
Reflection from combining homes
They’ve all asked me what it’s like to live with him. I laugh a little bit every time I hear the question because the transition to living together feels as second-nature to me as the milk I pour in my coffee every morning.
After I move in, we rearrange the decorations in his home to make room for mine. We sit on the couch together and look at the combination of our physical objects.
“They go together, don’t they?”
“They do go together,” he agrees.
His aesthetic of Asian-inspired artwork and my organic shapes and green leaves have created an environment that looks like it was thoughtfully cultivated, when in fact, it’s just representative of the random meshing of two souls combined.
We run together like the zebras and the oxpeckers, the bees and the orchids. Symbiotic.
In his arms, I wonder if nothing really is random. If it was indeed fated that we would find each other.
Because it feels like we have found each other before. Many times, over the course of many different lives.
I sometimes wonder what our partnership is meant to teach us in this life cycle. How we’re meant to grow this time. How we’ll meet the next time around.
Reflection from resisting your home
I spend four months of this year holding onto a powerful vendetta against the city.
I hate it.
I hate the traffic. I hate the thick air. I hate the fact that people all dress the same here and no one smiles at you.
I walk out the door each morning and I go on the offensive. Wary of people who are too close to me. Earbuds in my ears to protect myself from heckles or the constant honking from angry drivers.
To rage against the machine of the city. That’s what I’m doing. It fills me with a sort of satisfied anger that only turns into grief much later on in the evenings, when I realize I've spent my whole day being mad at an imagined entity.
Me against It.
Reflection from a home destroyed
The men walk in and out of our apartment with their big boots and plastic water bottles. They leave their food wrappers on the floor and they play their music loudly as they work.
We’re at each other’s throats these days. There’s nowhere to hide. Our bedroom has become the house. And no, it’s not as sexy as it sounds. Because our bedroom is now also our kitchen, and where we keep our toothbrushes and fold our laundry. As for the bathroom, well, the closest one is two flights up.
We’re trying not to, but we’re taking out all of our frustration on one another. Trying to place blame, trying to find solutions, trying to avoid the simple fact that we’re just uncomfortable and cramped and annoyed.
There’s a bitter irony that weaves its way through the thread of the whole situation. You have to be uncomfortable in order to be more comfortable.
We are so lucky. I remind myself.
When the renovations are done, there are a few days before we get back into our original rhythm. We snap at each other, once, twice, and then the frustration begins dissipate, sloughing off of us like water rolling off of oil.
The annoyance turns to happiness. The space is so beautiful now.
I make a mental note to myself: never live in a house that’s under construction again. I pretend to ignore the fact that it’s a dream of mine to build a home from the ground-up.
Reflection from a new family home
My family is far away these days.
If I was an actress and they needed me to cry on the spot for a scene, I could think about those seven words and the tears would start coming: My family is far away these days.
But his family is nearby.
His family takes me in as if I am their own. Unabashedly. “We already consider you to be a daughter.” They say to me.
As they say this, I have to glance over at him and see if that’s okay. For his parents to love me, too. Our relationship is strong and steady and it’s also just at toddlerhood. To be “adopted” into his family at this stage, is that not skipping ahead on some sort of timeline? He smiles at me.
“I love you all,” he says as he puts one arm around me and the other arm around his mom.
There is a new guilt growing in me as I watch him and his parents together. A knowledge that moving closer to my family would mean moving further away from his. No matter where we are, someone will be far from those they love. In casual comments we try to suggest that maybe his parents would consider moving west. They entertain the idea.
I wonder to myself how long it will take me to be comfortable in their home. If it will ever really feel like mine.
By the second visit, I have done away with my worries about social graces and tip-toeing around the house. I walk around in my pajamas and go off on my own if I need to.
Family. Comfort. Home.
I feel it here, too.
Reflection from a home transformed
Our apartment, his family, his arms. It all feels comfortable now.
Because of this, the city and me have begun to find peace with each other. I’m softening. I’m turning off the spotlight on all of the faults of the city.
There is something undeniably charming about the city streets. Rows and rows of townhouses. History etched throughout the buildings. With each smile I give out, I see one come back. With each small amount of gratitude I express, I see some new inch of the city unveiling itself to me. Some beautiful corner of green emerging from the stone and pavement.
Despite what I’ve told myself for years, this city is my home, has been my home, for 3.5 years and counting.
The streets have become pathways marked in my brain, mental maps that guide my feet. I make recommendations for cute cafes and bars to get a drink at; I’m chalk-full of recommendations these days. I know the roads well enough to give directions to strangers. In my mind, this is a true mark of “localness.”
There is a group of people that have formed around me that are closer to me now than friends I have spent my whole life knowing. Fascinating, I think to myself, that I feel more seen now, here, than I ever have.
Despite what I sometimes say, I love the energy, the life of the city. Even though I sometimes wish I could tell everyone to take a break. Take a rest. Take care of themselves.
I still miss the dark skies. And the bright stars.
Reflection from my childhood home
Home is a concept that has never been too foreign to me. From a young age my home was solid. Because of this, it’s been hard for me to leave it.
I end the year back in the home that formed me. Mountains surround me and cozy blankets warm me. I listen to my parents making plans for their own adventures. My idols in all things life, love, and adventure. My home.
In the mornings, I drive a familiar few blocks and I put my mat down in the yoga studio where I established my practice. I look around at all of the bodies in the room and I feel a comfort in the hard edges and intense expressions of those practicing around me. Sixty-year-old women who can hold a handstand much better than I can. I can’t help but smile at myself in the mirror. These people are all crazy. And I love it.
I walk through the parking lot of the neighborhood market I’ve gone to my entire life. My nose is flooded with the smell of freshly baked bagels, a smell that is so ingrained in my mind that old memories come rushing forward in a surge.
How can I explain to those on the streets, those that live here now, the feeling of being back? What it’s like to know a place in a way that’s bone-deep. I want to tell them, tell someone, because I need a way to put it into words.
This place has some strange sort of magic to it. An addictive quality. It won’t stop calling me back.
Coming home to myself
When I was ten years old my parents took us on a four-month trip around the world. From the ocean shores in Panama, the views of the Machu Pichu ruins, the dry land at Kruger National Park in South Africa, the gleaming white walls of the Taj Mahal and the ocean floor in Koh Tao, Thailand – beauty and wonder at every turn. In a book my mom wrote about the experience, she writes that I talked about home the whole time.
I’ve slowly begun to uncover all the lies I’ve told myself about who I am.
Sensitive and wild, prideful about my insecurities and humble about my gifts. I am, this life is, a living testament to what it means for two things to exist as opposites and yet be equally true.
For me, this means a strong pull towards home. At odds with my idea of myself as an adventurer, a free spirit. I’m seeing now that it’s not one or the other, it’s both.
I feel I have been clawing my way back to myself for years. I’ve been thinking about the notion that maybe I was born as myself and through the years society has laid its imprint on me so firmly that the true “me” has been lost or damaged along the way.
No one makes it out alive.
I'm making my way back now. Back to that earth sign, grounded, stubborn person that I’ve resisted for so long.
As Ram Dass said, we’re all just walking each other home.
And I’ve been looking for it. Looking for that sense of home ever since I left my very first. But I see now that I’ve found home in a hundred different places since then.
There is a deeper home, too, of course. One that I’m still searching for. One that lives deep within. Layer by layer, I’m peeling away the world’s ideas of who I am or who I am supposed to be, and I’m coming back, home, to me.