It is fair to say that, at times, I don’t live my life in the moment. I spent far too much of my time reflecting on the past and trying to stay connected to it. For this reason, I often find myself on the phone for hours at a time, or on Skype multiple nights a week talking to someone in a different time zone.
But there is a reason for this. Over the past several years, I’ve lived–for various amounts of time–in four different countries, eventually coming home and leaving people behind; and after graduating from college, and then my first master’s program, I watched friends scatter across the country and the world. As Miriam Adeney wrote:
You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.
Where is home, if not with the people you love?
Last year at this time, I convinced my mother to return to the place of her birth after 40+ years away. I hope one day to write about it. For her birthday this year, my sister and I got her a necklace engraved with the words: “Home is with the ones you love.” Home is not a place so much as a state of being; we found a home (my sister, mom, and me) squished in a small car on the road down to Montenegro and through Croatia with each other and with my second cousin and my mother’s first cousin. The place we visited was meaningful, but the car ride there somehow meant more.
Moving forward means leaving some things–and people–behind. Taking risks means you can’t be too surprised when you stumble, and at times, fall down. Caring for someone means you will, eventually, at some point get hurt.
But you forgive; you reach back while still turning away; you move forward but you don’t forget people or places; and when, after a year, you get a phone call from an old, dear friend, and end up talking for almost three hours… When your old roommate and good friend from Slovenia get on Skype together in Germany to give you a call… you re-visit those old ‘homes.’ You wish that everyone you loved lived in the same place (and was mobile with you whenever you wanted to change places!).
So, sometimes, you just sit down with a cup of chai (this is key) and realize you want the impossible. But then you sit and wish and even pray for it anyways because our culture and society tells us to forgive and forget; to let go and move on. But you know that you care too much to do any of that, and when–even for an hour–you reach back and visit an old ‘home’ again, that it’s worth having not let go, even though it is, at times, more difficult that way.