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heart's home

Posted Jan 19 2010 1:42pm
It's been ages, hasn't it? Since I've blogged? Truth be told I've just been taking a break. Stepping back from the whirlwind of this past year and just breathing. When I sit down and think about, when I realize that, within the last twelve months, I've been in eight countries on four continents, it makes me lightheaded. I got married, I moved back to Africa and then my home sailed to Spain. In a couple of weeks it'll head back south again, to yet another country, yet another language to learn. This, frankly, all seems insane. When I look at my life, written out in black and white like that, I can't imagine what I'm doing. Why I'm crazy enough to want this.

Because wanting this means missing them, the little ones who drool on my shoulders and snuggle into my arms to fall asleep with round bellies and soft fingers wrapped around mine. It means I see photos on Facebook and pray that they'll remember me when I come back to visit. And inevitably they don't, and I have to smile while I ask them if they know my name and the whole time my heart is breaking just a little because they never do.

Wanting this means I miss out on seasons, on the crisp fall air and the smell of damp earth in the spring. Granted, it means I skip the slush and frost of winter, but it also means I don't see snowflakes, perfectly formed, falling to land in clusters on my eyelashes and sleeves and the mittens my friend knitted for me, the ones I never get to wear because it's too hot for mittens in Africa.

But this, all this messing about in boats, in the end this has much to recommend it. When I came back this time after being at home for a couple of weeks visiting family in the States and Canada, I was amazed at how it all smelled like the sea when I walked onto the dock. All around me were the sounds of waves and the lights of the city reflected on the water and it smelled like the sea in summertime. I don't usually smell it, accustomed to it from long familiarity. But then I went away and came back and the salty breeze whispered to me that maybe I should never have left in the first place.

Because at nighttime there are crickets here in Tenerife, singing underneath the palm trees. We walk through the streets and I'm holding a stranger's hand, only he isn't a stranger; he's the one I love the most. And I'm stepping off street curbs without ever looking because he went first and I know he's not going to steer me wrong when my fingers are curled into the callouses on his palm. We're walking in the alleys of a Spanish city, the stones uneven underfoot and the clock in the church tower pealing out the hour, and none of this seems strange to me. It feels like home, and when I can stop thinking and analyzing and just let myself be, I realize that it is.

I always thought home was a fixed address, the one place you plant your roots and claim forever; I'm starting to realize that my home is nowhere and everywhere. It's in New Jersey and Toronto and Liberia and Ecuador. Home is this ship and a dock in Benin and a farmhouse in a small town in Ontario. It's where I've been and where I've yet to go, and it's all of these places at once. And I guess that's why I want this life. Because this life means I get to be home in Africa.

And I can't wait to be there again.

(Where's home for you?)

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