Home is Not Places

Even though there are several exciting upcoming flight itineraries in my email inbox and the immediate future months are finally starting to take shape, in this moment, I cannot say exactly where I would most prefer to be in the world. Of course I miss my friends and my family, of course. However, in addition to missing people, I’ve amassed a number of places I’ve begun to miss.

A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.

– Joan Didion

I long to be in places I’ve been and places I’ve only dreamed about. I’m constantly torn between loving and loathing where I am even now for many reasons, but also because it necessarily means that I am not able to be in other places. Although I grew up primarily in just one city, now I even struggle calling that place or any place home.

Part of me would love to be in my parents’ little green house with the little red maple tree out front. I would happily be slumped in the lumpy old couch in the front room looking out the picture window past the porch that my dad and grandpa built. My little black and white fluffy dog, Teddy, would be on my lap trying to lick my arm and my big, clumsy golden retriever, Sunny, would be wagging her whole body at my feet, insistently nudging my arm to force me to pet her. My Dad would most likely be outside working on some impossibly minute problem with some car and my sister would be pounding away on some obscure, atonal piece at the piano while my mom and I tried to maintain our sanity.

Yet, another part of me longs to sit lazily in the late autumn Tuscan sun on the medieval red- bricked- floor of the Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. I would just sit and watch Italian life pass me by—everything moving at its own pace—sometimes bustling, like the other side of the espresso counter and sometimes beautifully unhurried, like a slow-melting chocolate gelato. At parts of the day, the sun would light up and fill the entire conch-shaped piazza from edge to edge, the shadow of the Torre del Mangia shifting from one side to the other as the day waned.

Still part of me aches to be able to sit on that pastel-floral print sofa, holding the wrinkly, soft hands of my late, beloved grandma again in her little apartment with the bird clock while she sits in her recliner/rocker chair and we talk about anything and everything while her laughter shakes my whole arm. At one point, she would tell me that there is some ice cream in the freezer and I would gladly get up and get us both a bowl with two scoops each. The clink of our metal spoons against the porcelain white bowls would be the only sound for a while but it would be the kind of silence that we are most comfortable with, her and me.

People say home is where your family is but I am apart from my family, so am I perpetually not home? I can’t live like that. I have realized that I make homes wherever I am. The people I meet around the world necessarily become like family and so I can only dream of a place where I am and they are there also, even if it’s only for a short time. I’ve never left a place or a person I’ve loved as if it were the last time we’d see each other, and I don’t ever intend to.

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