What is it about coming home, about making a life in the place you’ve grown up, that turns you inside out, so brazenly and cool? Without batting an eye, the town that reared you also reveals you, the real you, the old and new you. She holds up the kind of mirror that shines a reflection so accurate that all you can say is, yep, that’s true.
For me, it was a yo-yoing of coming and going. I went out from my parent’s home, the cozy little over-crowded nest, and fled to the other side of the world, where they drank hot tea five times a day and my Southern bones had never felt a cold so damp that it soaked you right to marrow. I stayed long enough to give my heart away and then have it break from the kind of homesickness that can only be soothed by the nostalgia of country music. Coming home then was surprising and sorrowful and still, the sun rose with a new song of hope.
And then there were the in-between years of searching along the roadsides of America for permanence, security, roots. Covering miles of blacktop and hours of wondering if I was on the right path- was this the right way? or did I miss a turn? Eventually finding respite for a season in an old house, on some old land, that belonged to my Great-Grandparents. The fields welcomed me; the birds and trees knew my name. It wasn’t perfect -the place was cold and strange- but it pointed to something that made sense. Something I wanted for real.
Eventually the path became clear as daylight, like a Damascus road kind of light, and I somehow (by mercy) acquired my very own kith and kin. We learned how to stay put, relatively speaking at least, and how to make a house a home. Our love grew over pots of soup and on long car rides and with little faces upturned and echoing our own. It was happening without our striving for it. It was beckoning us from our bitter places and coaxing us with warmth and nourishment. Coming home, after all, was a freedom.
Nowadays, this place is familiar (always) and sometimes surprising (still.) The landscape is gradually shifting towards one that our children will recognize. Our future isn’t tied to a piece of dirt like the past once was, but the days ahead offer new joys untold, new treasures disclosed. There’s a hill with our home’s name on it, the home we have yet to break ground on, the heritage house to come. It has already offered so much. This returning is a breaking open and a bringing forth of who I want to be. Of who I am at home.