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Finding Home

Last night I traveled from my new home in Florida to my old home in Illinois on a noisy but uneventful flight.  All in all, I drove from my workplace in Daytona Beach to Orlando’s International Airport parking lot, rode in the shuttle from Hell with Gus the maniac driver from the parking lot to the terminal, flew from Orlando to Indy next to a passenger who thought the short shorts from the 80s were making a comeback, ran from the gate to the car like a madwoman, and then drove from Indy to Charleston in a near exhausted state.  A long journey to my family and even longer journey to figuring out one of life’s most existential questions:  where and what is home? 

 

I moved cross country two weeks ago—alone and packed to the gills in my little Hyundai.  I left my family back in Illinois till the semester ends when they can transition from sweaters and coats to shorts and flip flops.  It was what I thought was one of the hardest days of my life.  I’ve never actually been away from my children and husband for more than three days and here I’m attempting to be separated from them for three months.  It’s only been two weeks but already I can tell things they are a changing.

 

For one, I’m a little uncertain as to who or what I am right now.  I’m not divorced—I’m still a happily married woman but it’s hard to be a wife to a husband that isn’t there.  I’ve not abandoned my children but it’s hard to be a mother to children that live several states away.  I’ve been left in limbo it seems—not wholly this and not wholly that—somewhat a ghost of my old self or at least the self that I’ve built up over the past 15 years.  The past two weeks have left me searching for who I really am and whether I can be comfortable with a self that is neither fully wife nor fully mother—just me.  The ‘just me’ that doesn’t know what to eat or what to watch or what radio station to turn to.  The ‘just me’ that has very little to think about other than starting a new job in a new state.  The ‘just me’ that isn’t advocating for anyone or anything on a daily basis.  The ‘just me’ that seems adrift, albeit in a enlightening not frightening way.

 

Yesterday as I drove to the airport I felt like I was holding my breath—and not entirely because I had to pee like crazy for 45 minutes straight.  On the plane I felt an eerie calmness that this flying novice never feels on a jumbo jet hurtling through the sky at 30,000 feet which ironically had nothing to do with any mood enhancing medications.  It didn’t exactly feel like I was going home—it’s not the place that I’m attached to anymore.  I’ve already said goodbye to all of that.  It’s not as if the house we live in feels like sanctuary.  It’s not as if the town is where I feel like I should be anymore.  There was something else to the euphoria that struck as I ran through the airport in kitten heels pushing tired, crabby, and sluggish fellow travelers out of my way.  And it hit as soon as I saw my family practically bouncing out of their seats with joy—this is my home.  These four people are home to me—wherever they may be.  My home is not a stationary building with four walls and a roof—just as my church is not a building with four walls and a steeple. 

 

I’ve long known that my religion is not dictated by anything other than those singular moments where I know I am beside some greater power—whether that be in the living room, on a walk, or inside some elaborately designed architectural masterpiece.  My religion has no name and my home has no address.  My home is the intersection of them and me.  Understanding this, I finally let my breath out in that one moment.  The mother and the wife and the long buried ‘just me’ had come home.  And I know come Monday when it is time to leave again, that the hardest day of my life will not have been the first time I left them but the second.