It is good to be home. I feel the green grass in between my toes and look at all of the colors, pink, purple, and rust red that accessorize the trees. I am surrounded by familiar sounds, the southern drawls of strangers, the chatter of my family and friends. There isn’t the need of a navigation system because I know where I am. I relish these days, in the place I was born and raised, because I don’t have to offer explanations of who I am, offer cursory introductions of my husband and my daughter, and make small talk about nothing in particular.
It is being a part of my history that offers me comfort. There are no awkward silences in conversations. I make a joke and my sister tells me it isn’t funny, but I still laugh anyway. There is a heartiness in my chuckle because I am really feeling my laugh, the kind that makes your whole body shake. I feel a bounce in my heart because I am enjoying this moment, aware of its temporary feeling, knowing that next week I will be back in the land of cacti and the landscape that matches my brown skin.
Time is giving me a giant hug and it envelops me. My daughter plays with the daughters and sons of my childhood friends, women I have known since I was ten years old. At the same time, my husband is talking sports with his brother and his cousin, only the three of them understanding the language of their lingo. They are sitting on the couch, bantering, not needing anyone else to participate in the conversation. My sister and I are sharing stories of remember when and I am greeted with the click of my sister’s camera, because she always loves to take pictures of just about everything.
Home is happiness, but I am aware of how things have changed. I won’t be walking into my childhood home, expecting my father, sitting on the couch. There won’t be any visits to the hospital or to the oncologist, talking about another treatment plan or strategically planning the next course of action to tackle my father’s disease. I won’t be telling my father that things will work out.
I am still talking to my father, but in different ways. I walk into places I know he has walked, restaurants and the like, partaking in the foods that he liked, reading the local paper, and eating donuts, something he absolutely love. I remember him in more serious ways. We attend a memorial service at the temple, marking the anniversary of his death, and friends and family come to honor him with us. Every person I recognize, I knew my father would too, and I feel overwhelmed by gratitude for those who chose to help us remember him.
I don’t mind the ambivalence, switching from one emotion to another. It is because it is this place I call home, embracing what it is and what it has become.