I read a book when I was a kid called “Homecoming.” The main character’s name was Dicey and she was just a kid, but a grown-up kid and the book was long and paperback and had reeds and water on the front cover.
Or at least that’s how I remember it.
I’m pretty sure fourth-grade me probably didn’t get the entire message that book’s author intended. Grown-up me can’t even really remember what that book I read so long ago was about. But it was called “Homecoming” for a reason and it was about that character Dicey’s struggle to find that direction, amidst all the other stuff in her little-girl life.
I feel that way, some days. That the stuff I never asked for just swirls around in my head, creating a haze I can’t quite scrape away. That the path is right there, in front of me, but some days, someone forgot to clear the weeds away and the thistle and the thorns and it’s just rained a whole bunch so the ground is soggy and the water seeps in through the holes in the rubber of my canvas K-Mart shoes.
And my toes are cold.
But my hair is getting long, so long, though it doesn’t look particularly good, sort of like that third-grade school picture after I’d grown out my bangs.
These days, today’s sort of day, my feet are still dry but my eyes are, too. My sister just shared a link on Facebook to a blog post about betrayal. The worst kind, the author says, is the one where the person you love decides to stop loving you back. Or doesn’t decide actually but just stops caring enough to invest in the relationship and stops loving you by default. Insightful, I said. And terrifying. Yes, to both, my little sister said.
My family drove home for the holiday last week. It was a beautiful homecoming in so many ways, an easy one, a slip-right-back-into-what-life-was-like-there-without-missing-a-beat sort of one. I reveled in the friendships I’d left behind that still existed in the same, pure way they had back then, back then in March when I left them without knowing who’d tend to them while I was gone. Turns out some friendships, if planted correctly the first time, just grow on their own. I am lucky for that.
So back home, I saw those old friends. I drove those old streets. I even peeked at the yellow house in Dundee. I looked through the front window at night and was comforted that the walls, inside, were still yellow.
We went to the bar I thought I loved. The rock star played and he was brilliantly beautiful as always; the love for him in that room was wide and warm. The people were fun and different and the same, all too the same, and… well, the feelings I have about that place, about that night, are part of the tornadic dust still gunking up whatever part of the mind is in charge of figuring shit like that out.
We stayed for a week. I felt warm and cocooned and loved and even more confident in my own skin, back home. I refused to think about leaving until the day before we couldn’t avoid leaving. We left and I didn’t cry. The rock star who I love so much that when I read novels about husbands dying or cheating or both, I start to (irrationally) worry about losing him, looked at me in the car and said, “No tears?”
I agreed it was odd.
But I was trying, see, really trying to convince myself to not feel so much, to not feel everything so passionately, so intensely. Not everything matters, I tell myself, not everything you attach emotion to even exists, I say. In my head.
So leaving home to head home wasn’t hard, at least not right then. Not even now, that we’re home, in our new home, in our home that’s just ours, this little house that if I let my mind run wild needs so much work but if I let content seep in is just fine already, it’s not hard.
Something, I don’t know what yet, in my mind, inside somewhere, is still simmering. Things are shifting down through tiny holes like the sand in the metal sifter I used in the sandbox long ago as a kid in Oklahoma, those June bugs banging against the back patio light as I played past bedtime.
I’m thinking and reading and trying to be the girl I want to be, all the time. I’m trying to remember every single second how beautiful life is, even when it’s not.
Even when it is. Which it is, for us, just about all the time. We are lucky. In love. In life. In blessings and otherwise. Lucky.