When I Say Homesick, Now You Know What I Mean

girl hiking in new zealand

“Where’s home for you?” someone asked me. And I paused just a moment too long—not because I’d forgotten, but because I wasn’t quite sure.

I have a house.  It came with a mortgage and a permanent address I can use to fill out forms with, a working oven and a pink carpet, some well-hidden stains. The pink carpeting is gone now. The mortgage isn’t.

I have a van, too. It came with four tires and a wheelchair lift, a working engine and grey paneling, some well-hidden rust. There’s wood on the walls now, a bed and a sink that burps up clean water whenever I want to brush my teeth. The wheelchair lift is gone now. The rust isn’t.

But ask me where home is, and I can’t think of an answer. All I have for you is what I scribbled down in a torn-up notebook in New Zealand, peeling off socks dampened by a wind-and-hail storm sent by Zeus, in a van with a dead battery, wondering what we were going to do next. I try to read it every once and again when I need a reminder. Or when I walk down the “your house looks like shit” aisle of Target.

“Home, for me, has never felt like four walls. A front door. The potted plants that keep dying because I forget to water them. The candles I’ll buy and never have matches to light with. Home usually feels more like screaming muscles and an overstuffed pack. A companion (furry or otherwise) and a horizon. Ramen noodles and heavy eyelids straining to stay open while I decipher the galaxy between the poor lost souls splattered on a windshield. The smell of a down jacket one washing past due and no plans for tomorrow. So when I say I’m homesick, now you know what I mean.”

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