Home Again. They tell me it’s time. It’s time to start packing. To start storing away all we won’t especially need. This puts limits on me. My favorite blanket won’t fit, my pillow is too poofy. But they have pillows there. Only one stuffed animal. It’s alright, birthdays always bring new ones. If only my books would fit! But there’s a weight limit. So I stack them away and carry their stories in my head. Music. Definitely will need that for the long car rides. Thank the Lord for whoever invented the Ipod! CD’s were hard to pack. What about my posters? They could rip or get eaten by rats if I leave them here. But they could get lost during the flight. Better to leave them here and risk the rats. It’s strange seeing my room so empty. I search for any sign that I live here. If some random person were to come across my room, would they wonder what kind of crazy girl would paint her room lime green? Or would they understand? If after living here so long and I still haven’t left a foot print in this red clay, how will people know what happened here? If the sweat and raining tears didn’t leave the land green, how will they know life was lived? Maybe that’s why the land is so red. The land speaks truth. It reveals the blood that was shed here. Blood of lives lost. Blood of lives taken. Blood of lives given. So many unfinished thoughts. So many unfinished words. So much unfinished action. But we’ll be back soon. So they say. For now, everything is stored away in tubs; locked in the warehouse. Everything is packed. Except for my most treasured items. I tuck the picture of my African family I’m leaving here safely away in my Bible. I’ll always have that with me. There are no smiling faces in the picture in order to show the seriousness of the moment. But that’s okay. They’re smiling in my heart. Home Again. It’s funny; I always thought this was called home. Time to wheel my suitcase to the Rover. I hate goodbyes. It’s like stepping off a cliff and falling into the future. It never boomerangs you back. But here we go. My small suitcase is loaded. But I hold onto my memories. That’s one way to get around the system. They can’t put weight limits on those.
Home Again. I can’t believe we’re finally off that plane! I can’t believe we just left a whole other world behind. Time to step into a new one. I struggle to find my feet again through numb legs. This is difficult. And takes longer than it seems. My heart starts to pound as we near the exit. I can feel it thumping through my chest and in my ears, getting stronger like the witchdoctor drums I fell asleep to every night. Pretty soon I’ll be surrounded by family. I feel scared and shy. Is it wrong I feel this way toward my own flesh? Suddenly I’m overwhelmed by Aunts and Uncles and cousins and church family. So many smiles and hugs and kisses. So many loud voices. This is my family. Shouldn’t I feel more…at home…with them? More comfortable? Then I see my grandma’s face. Her silver hair and smiling eyes. She gently gives me a hug. I can feel her warmth. Smell her light, sweet perfume; like musty lavender. Yes, this is my family. I remember now. I’m not so scared anymore. I know this comforting touch. I’m safe and loved. Everything will be okay.
Home Again. Yes, we are back. But we are not the same. Life feels different now. Awkward. No matter how much I blend, inside I’m on a different continent. Parts of me fit here. But what do I do with the rest of the pieces of me? No matter how hard I try I can’t shake the guilt of feeling like a stranger to my own family. If it weren’t for the traditions of the holidays like Easter egg hunts, Holiday cookouts, pumpkin carving, popcorn ball making, and Christmas cookie baking. And the long awaited Christmas hotel lock-ins full of swimming, games, and food with family and friends to remind me of life before I changed, I would still feel like a stranger. All the Sunday meals and sleepovers with cousins at Grandma’s helped remind me of family. But traditions soon turn into only motions. Holidays become routine. Cousins grow up and Grandma’s house gets sold. Times change. So I lock my memories away. They’ll still be there when life dies. I can pull them out and look at them anytime; whenever I need them to remind me of Home Again.
Home Again. I’m beginning to wonder where that is. Both worlds have their place in me, but neither place can contain me. Sometimes I feel like a human ping pong ball being whacked across the ocean back and forth. Arriving just in time to be sent back again. Imagine how that ball feels. Spinning through the air not knowing whether it’s coming or going. Not remembering where the start is and when the end is. The lines and net become blurred. That’s when you just let yourself soar. Once you do, moving becomes a whole lot easier. It’s not so hard to let things go anymore. I’ve finally become a master at limiting myself! New places always replace the old anyway…if only it didn’t work that way with people. There are so many I love here, but so much I miss there. I’m afraid to leave and be forgotten but I’m afraid to stay and lose who I am. Can one world drown out another? The ones I leave behind will grow up, move on, and forget. But my memories are all I have. They are all I can carry. Travel lightly with a heavy heart. Maybe my luggage wouldn’t be so heavy if I could forget too. Should I take them home again? No one realizes it, but when I go my world pauses here until I return to pick it up again. But their world will keep on turning…where are we now? Which home is this? Are we home? They say we are… but we never quite seem to be there yet. It’s strange. With all this travel you’d think we would have found our destination. But we haven’t. So we keep traveling until we’re Home Again.
Home Again. This is the path we’ve chosen. Never to get quite settled. It took my mom three years before she decorated the house and hung pictures of the family up. But that’s normal. Why should we make a home in one place when we always leave for another? Besides we’ve learned to carry those we love. Sometimes though, I’m tempted to let people go. Sometimes it’s too painful to hold on. But somehow my heart is stronger than my grip. Why is it I’m the one who leaves yet I feel like the one being left? Everyone else seems to be moving forward while I’m stuck in limbo. Here and there are not my home. When one is the other is not. Which means they both are not. But this is the path I want. No attachments or ties binding me to one place. And love can still travel. No more locking myself into one world. The world is not fit for me. I am fit for only one home. By having no home, my heart has found its home. So I’ll keep moving, I’ll keep travelling, I’ll keep remembering, and I’ll keep treasuring because I’ll never have to wonder whether I am Home Again.