Home is an illusive changing thing. As a child, “home” needed no definition: it was a reality and a rhythm and an unquestioned state of being. As a fresh college student returning for a break, home seemed like a shadow, still connected but I stood somehow separate and above – casting a past and projecting a future. After traveling the world and returning home, the sense of familiar remained but seemed strangely floating and undefinable – I interpreted this as a change in myself. I had this unsettled feeling deep within that I no longer belonged in the place where I had become. I remember a sense of fear at this discovery.
Many years have gone by, and at various times this creeping fear has surprised me by its reappearance in my life. Sometimes it has been grippingly present as I wake in the morning, only fading slightly by the time my head hits the pillow at night. My mind has groped for reasons, ways to understand this unwelcome feeling within, attempting to find coping mechanisms for existing in the present.
Recently have I realized that a longing for “home” has little to do with place and everything to do with self. There is, within humanity, a desire to have a mummified self held safe and sound in a known location. As long as we have that, we can travel the world, fall in love, change social groups, bring new humans in the world, change and be changed in nearly every way. Then at Christmastime, when that bite of great-grandma’s pie hits your tongue *BAM* mummified self sighs with relief. Home nostalgia floods the senses. All is right in the world.
I’m in my thirties and after a long absence from the place where I grew up, I am moving my family across the country back to my mountains. Only, there is no going back. Our language reflects this idea that we can “go back” to places, but we can’t. Nothing is static, not us, not home, not place, not people. Nothing. The mummified self doesn’t exist. For the first time in my life, I am so very thankful for this. I find it freeing. I can embrace the change in my self and the change in the place and the change in others that is the reality of the present.
So, Home, I am coming. But I am not coming back. I am coming to discover you again, delight in the sense of familiar, resolve the awkwardness we will have when we find where we have both changed, introduce you to the small human selves that run around outside of me, and invite you to discover the love of my life who is inextricable to my self. This family that I bring is more my home than any place will ever be, but I am so excited to watch you captivate and enchant each other.