I find myself missing old hugs- old sweaters and old blankets and creaky wooden floors. I miss the stained glass window at the front of my Victorian childhood home. I hope the people who moved in have left it and appreciate it just as much. I miss playing under the trees and hiding away from the world. I crave old friends and laughs that sound like home.
These memories have aged so sweetly, like candied fruit or apple pie. And I suddenly find myself having a harder time saying goodbye.
As I take my evening drive to the supermarket, my nostalgic feelings are quelled by the quiet road. I have the world to myself- no distractions or urgency. I admire the trees that are left with just a bit of shine. They’re changing- following and working to complete their cycle. Yellow are their leaves in commemoration of the sun. I imagine them sending their amber syrup (energy) down into their roots.
You may not notice it in the midst of your scarf blowing over your face or if you’re in a hurry, but if you stop for just a second, you could witness one of the most magical parts of the season. Every so often, star-shaped rain comes down on the earth, creating one big blanket for the ground. It’s sprinkled so effortlessly, carried gently by the wind.
I feel nurtured by these trees and comforted by their resilience through the colder times. Their branches are what I hold onto to keep from sinking. But sometimes I’m too busy to see them. Instead, I see right past them. It makes me feel disconnected from everything, lost in my own race.
I struggle to feel part of where I am. The resentment I feel towards the place I grew up probably stems from it never making sense to me. I suppose it did at one point when my friend and I would meet up at the edge of the gate that separated our family’s property to convene about our fairy house building operations and makeshift realities. I assume that gate is still there, but I haven’t seen it in over five years. The streets I travel now are foreign, though I know them like the back of my hand. The forgiving nature of mom and pop shops is diminishing, and the unforgiving nature of busy, seasonal shore and city people claims its place more each year.
Everywhere I look is changing. “It’s not what it used to be.” I feel old. No longer does my home look like the lichens growing on the old pear tree or picking ripe cherries while standing in between chipping paint and overgrown rose bushes. We’ve traded homemade quilts and messy living rooms for modern home magazine covers and spotless kitchen tables. We have fences now as borders. We close ourselves off because of computer-generated fear. The puzzle piece gets a little more misshapen.
So I just watch people leave. I’ve watched myself leave more than anyone else. I see the uprooting of family. We all need more water and sunlight now. What’s home without any friends?
The urge to escape grows and grows with vicious desire. And it’s not so bad if you can outrun the everlasting wave of emotion. Each season I find a new way to replace old feelings, to nourish what’s missing.
These desires are pacified by breaking away. Last summer, I traveled all the way across the country to New Mexico with my mother. You could say it was in search of a home that we belong to.
The mysteriousness of desert life called. I had a dream a few months before of being in the White Sands, and so the peacefulness of the wind picking up each gypsum crystal echoed through my mind. The allure and charm filled me with promise.
When I arrived, darkling beetles scurried across the sand. Each carried its own message in a tiny glass bottle. I put my feet onto the pillowy ground and chased them across the hills. The tangerine sky lit my skin up like autumn’s glowing pumpkins, and the clouds painted my hair lavender. The sun set quickly, and I struggled to say my goodbyes, but right before I left, a darkling beetle stopped to hand me over a bottle. Inside I found a piece of myself (a piece of home). I took it with gratitude and carried on.
I was left with a valuable piece of wisdom. As I passed out of Southern New Mexico, through the Texas plains, and back into the sweet Louisiana air, I searched for my reflection in the muddy, stirring water of the Mississippi River with no luck, but found it in the window of the fast racing car against the greenery. My face was made up of a bunch of blurred foliage.
We passed many states on our way back, but none provided the same comfort of the Northeast. Of course, that’s what I’ve come to know, but as I looked down at my darkling beetle bottle, I saw I had roots. There wasn’t a reflection of any other land that could fill the hole in my heart from the separation of me to mine- pieces I’d denied myself.
My heart lies in my chest, but also in the dense forest, something I will always miss when I leave.
On this drive, I begin to recognize my surroundings like never before. I fit back into my shoes, my place. I’ve been running for long enough in ways to cope with my bitterness and depression as a result of my distaste for this place I’ve grown no roots. But truthfully, it is just as much home as all the other places. It’s just as much home as my friends’ faces and my parents embrace, my favorite sweater and a warm cup of tea. I’m home too, and the feathers I dropped to fade into seeds have sprouted as well. I carry these pieces everywhere I go.
Autumn brings back all my souvenirs. All my feelings resurface with vengeance. Bygone polaroids scatter along the path, and I pick them up to skip like rocks. I find myself at meeting ends of the whirlpool. Life changes like seasons do.
I was never separate from home. My roots never shriveled. It was just an illusion I bought into. And besides the point, where the birch grows, the oaks stand tall, and the maples sing, is my home.
The bridge between a noisy summer, gatherings and burnt skin, and a cozy and quite lonely winter. Fall is a good time to reflect, to build your reservoir back up like the mighty maples.
With so much love,