I looked up the dictionary definition of the word home because I was curious to hear what it said (and let's be honest, I'm a nerd). All of the definitions referred to "a house, one's place of residence, country or native land, living quarters." I've been thinking about this subject continually lately now that we are back in town, now that we are back "home". The dictionary seems to believe one's home is simply a house. I have a different opinion.
Our last month in Colorado was quiet, we had the chance to do a bit more exploring in the mountains and see some friends of ours, but a lot of the time it was just quiet. Then, we had an eternal car ride across the Midwest, there is absolutely nothing out there. Before I knew it the landscape was changing from nothing and unfamiliar to known ground. We had entered places I grew up in and could navigate with my eyes closed.
I had an odd sensation of feeling that nothing at all had taken place. That things were just as they had always been and I'd never been involved in the tangled and complicated months behind me. It was a feeling I had felt before, the last time that we had returned from a long trip overseas full of adventures, good and bad. But this time things are different. I have a lot more figuring out to do.
As we drove on streets well worn by our memories we listened to "The Call" by Regina Spektor. I love that song. It perfectly captures a lot of the things I can't put into words. One line towards the end says, "Just because they can't feel it too doesn't mean that you have to forget." That has always resonated with me because often, no matter how much effort I put into relating a story from my life or trying to convey to someone how I felt in a certain moment, they just don't get it. And that's not easy, especially when it's a friend you love and care about.
But I'm slowly teaching myself that sometimes your memories, the ones that make you smile and the ones that make you hurt can only ever be yours. If someone else doesn't understand or can't relate it's not the end of the world. You can take those thoughts and lock them deep in your heart. Someday, someone will come along who does understand and maybe even has a similar memory locked up inside of them.
So as we were driving up to our own front door in a different van than our old blue one with all her fading stickers, I felt two things at once. A surge of disappointment and a wave of unknown. I'm beginning to feel I won't ever know anything for certain. Life has proved to be so unpredictable.
Our friends had taken exceptionally good care of us by cleaning our house and stocking our fridge. Quite a few people stopped by to welcome us back. "Isn't it good to be home?" they kept asking. But I don't know. Is it good to be home? Is this home?
I loved seeing some of my friends again and I can't wait to see more of them. But part of me will always feel set apart. I'm "that girl", the one who "is never home", "Jackson's sister", "the one with the stories and the funny accents". I guess that's not a bad thing but it can be lonely when you know that your friends would rather not hear about the uglier sides of your adventure stories. There are parts I keep in the shadow because they are painful for me and no one likes to feel depressed. But sometimes you need to tell those parts too, it's part of being honest, it's part of telling the truth.
Lots of people say to me, "Lydia, you need to be more open!", "Why are you so quiet?", "Why do you look so upset?" It's one thing to announce that I should be more open, but that leaves me to figure out how. Maybe I'm quiet sometimes because I like to observe the world around me and absorb it. Maybe I'm thinking. Did you ever consider the fact that maybe I look upset but I'm not? Or if I am that's probably because no one has only sunshine and rainbows in life.
I get exhausted hearing about ridiculous drama from my friends and who broke up with who. Last summer I was drinking copious amounts of tea in a refugee camp where the stories of their lives were nightmares. And the women and children were especially oppressed. I am still haunted by the beautiful faces of people who have lost everything and have only enough strength to put one foot ahead of the other.
This year my brother came .05 % close to dying and we had to fly home from my favorite thing in the world to be with him as he recovered. Yes, I'm stunned at how good God was to us. Yes, I know he has a plan in all of this. Yes, it's nice to have some sense of stability now. But please, don't come to me to complain about your frivolous or petty problems. Do come to me if you want to sit in a field and stare up at the clouds and have deep talks about life or tell stories about beautiful people and places. I will not tolerate the first world problems that people seem to think are actual issues.
And I'm not excluding myself from that list. I have fallen prey to the drama and the petty quarrels too. But it's immature and I'm tired of it.
My first step towards being "open" is learning how to do that with myself. I'm trying to be honest to myself about my feelings. To take time to think about why I do and say things then learn where there are problems and begin to fix them. I've been journaling a lot, but often I just say the things that happened. I don't stop to write what I felt or how something affected me. I'm almost scared to write my own opinions even in my own journal. Being open isn't the easiest thing in the world. It's going to take a lot of work. Vulnerability takes a ton of courage and strength that I don't often have.
This has been a year of change so far, and so was last year. Things are still changing. I'm still growing and I have a long way to go. I have known what it is to feel everything at once, then only a second later to feel nothing at all. I have felt lost and confused lately. I still am. But I'm on a journey to figure out what I believe in, who I can learn to love, what I am meant to do, and where is my home.
I'd like to give the word "home" a new meaning because the old one isn't strong enough for me. So here is Lydia Thomas' definition of what a home is and where you find yours:
Home: a person, a place, a moment, a memory where you feel safe. A refuge you can return to and know that things are alright. It can be a character in a favorite book, a verse of song, a human being, anywhere that reminds you that there is a God above who will replace the darkness with sunshine and bring light back in. Home is anywhere and anyone who gives you that warm sense that all is right, a happy place, a comfort food, an anticipated letter, an old friend.
So, Franklin, Tennessee is my dictionary definition of a home, but it isn't home to me. Home to me, is the flowers that bloom in the spring, it's the laughter in our house, it's hugging my friends I haven't seen in ages, it's hammocking outside with a good book, it's postcards from Athens and London. It is countless memories and moments. It's a feeling of refuge and calm.