“Where’s home?” they ask me.
A million thoughts run through my head in the few seconds between the time they stop talking and the moment my lips start moving.
Home? Where is home for anyone, really? “Home is where the heart is,” as the old adage goes. I know that some people find their home in a lover’s arms or sitting by the fireplace on Christmas day surrounded by family. For me, I’ve always found my home when I’m surrounded by friends. In their presence, I can trust my heart to melt into the moment and surround the memory with a nostalgic glow. As friends come and go, I’ve had many homes through the years.
Sometimes home feels like that lingering moment just before my coffee cup and meets my lips, a scarf draped around my neck and raindrops gently tapping on the windowpane. Peaceful and serene. Other times I find home in a song, as if those two seconds between one verse and the next perfectly capture every mixed up feeling in my life and I feel at ease.
But those moments are exactly that. Moments. Fleeting. And fragile. They come and go. They can serve as great memories, but they aren’t a home. For me, home is a place I can come back to and feel like I belong. A place where I am myself and where I know I will be welcomed back.
For various reasons, I never quite felt like this in my own house. Instead I defined myself and my home around my current group of friends. And that works out fine, until something happens that separates us – maybe growing apart, or moving away.
And right now, that’s exactly what has happened. I don’t know where home is for me anymore. I haven’t lost my friends, but they are too far away. I long for the feeling of comfort from seeing the familiar face of a loved one. It feels like coming home after a long journey – even if I last saw the person just two hours ago. It’s like a breath of fresh air after walking though campfire smoke. I know I am welcome here, I can be myself here. Here I can breathe easy. A weight is lifted off my chest and my heart smiles. I’m Home…
But I don’t have that right now. My loved ones are too far away. Instead, I am surrounded by these alien faces and alien hearts. I am familiar with the halls I walk and the patterns of my day, but it all feels so hollow and boring without someone to share all the mundane details with.
These strangers seem kind, but their hearts are each an unknown island. And it terrifies me. How will I ever find my home among all this unfamiliar territory? I fear, this time I’ve gotten myself too lost to find my way back home. I could just stay where I am and build up a shack. Make this foreign land familiar. Haven’t I done that often enough in Minecraft when I stray too far to find my way back and night is coming? I’d build myself a dirt house and wait out the night. If I translate that mindset into reality I’d be able to get on well here. Or at least survive the impending night until morning comes and I can start to actually build my new home.
But my heart yearns for the palace I had built before. Why, oh why did I run away from it? Didn’t I have it all? In my memory, it seems so. But we all know memory loves to play this funny little trick on us. The past always seems so much better when the present is rough. But, I know the past wasn’t as great as I would like to think it was. I had my reasons for leaving, and I’ve got to deal with the consequences I brought about.
And yet, I still do not know where my home is. And night is coming for me. And I need to decide my game plan quickly if I want to avoid being slaughtered but the monsters that come out in the dark. If I want to carry on with this game…
But they don’t want any of that. They want the simple answer. Small talk. I’m so tired of this small talk. I just want a place to lay my weary heart. But I don’t have that luxury.
So I play along.
Home… I shake away the thoughts, and part my lips to say, “I’m from La Porte.”