As soon as the doors of the airport open to the world, I don’t feel the gust of warm air, but humid moisture wraps its blanket around me. As I wait, I hear the passing ya’ll and see men who don cowboy hats as a part of their everyday attire; I feel familiarity tickling my skin.
I am in Dallas again, a place I’ve always called home. As my daughter and I wait on the curb, I notice a man smoking a cigarette, something she notices too. “Momma, she says, is he putting fire in his mouth?” Her eyes look at me and I realize the weight she puts in my words. “He is smoking a cigarette. Let’s move over.” I hope my adult answer pacifies her question. This time I am saved from any further questions because she sees my sister’s car pull around the corner. The squeals and screaming echo throughout the airport corridor, my daughter is jumping, eager to give her aunt, also known as her best friend forever, a hug. She squeezes her tight, her embrace continuous and unrelenting.
I am quiet, my thoughts reflect on my daughter’s laughter. I smile, her sounds make me feel alive and I listen to how she banters back and forth with her aunt. In the last few years, I’ve had an ambivalent relationship to what I call home. I’ve focused on a single event, the fact that my father isn’t here anymore. And because of that, I’ve justified in my mind, home can’t really truly be home anymore.
I hear the laughter again. And it prompts me to think about all of the good events that have happened in this place. I was born in Texas in the same hospital as my daughter and my sister. My husband proposed to me in a small park about 20 minutes from my childhood home. We later got married about 20 minutes from where his family has a home. Sister, brother, grandparents, cousins and friends – they all still inhabit this place. I’ve celebrated many milestone moments in this home, everything from riding my bike to obtaining my driver’s license to graduating law school and working at my first “real world” job. There have been smaller moments too, eating dinner with my family at a local Mexican restaurant, ice cream runs at 9:30 p.m., and scrabble games on our living room floor.
All my memories of home, in the collective, have mainly been positive ones. But I forgot this. I discounted and disregarded so many good memories by focusing on one single event. The truth is, home has always been pretty good to me. I just forgot why for awhile.
We exit the car, my daughter holds her aunt’s hand in her grasp. My mom is waiting for her and she runs toward her grandma, and the laughter starts again.
Oh, to be home again.
What is your relationship to your childhood home? Has your definition of home evolved? How do you reconcile bad memories and good ones that happen in the same place?
My “home” is in another province of Canada than where I live now. I lived there all my life. I miss the sweet sound of the ocean and crashing waves. But that “bittersweet” feeling you mention relates to my home. My husband went through a major legal issue that put a huge stress on the family. It was a horrible time in our (and especially my husband’s) life. We moved away during that time, so now the memories of my home town are full of sad and stressful times that I’d rather forget.
But luckily, two years ago my parents moved to the province where we now live (we have been here for eight years). So it is becoming more and more like “home” to me. But I do still miss the ocean sometimes.
Lovely post, Rudri. Enjoy your visit.
Again Rudri, I so love reading your writings. As for my home, my birthplace is far away, LaChapelle, France. My Father was in the service, however, when we returned from France, I became, and have always considered myself a “Texan.” My siblings were all born and raised here, my parents, and grandparents. I now have come what I think is full circle in my life, I am living in the same small town (which is no longer small) that both my parents, and their parents were born and raised in. A town with much history, a town that was founded by my ancestors, who traveled here in Wagons from the State of Alabama. I have had many homes while living in Texas, but that is part of being what most refer to as an “Army Brat.” My Father is no longer with us either, and like you, I sometimes feel that home is no longer home as he is not there. However, I fondly think back of all the memories I have of him, and then it does still seem like home, I just can’t see his face in his chair, nor hear his voice. I am thankful though for all the memories I have of him, he was a grand man, a good man, and I look forward to the day when I see him again.
I do hope you enjoy your time at home. Are you back for just a visit or for good???
This is a beautiful, reflective piece. I’m glad you’re getting some “home time,” even though returning home when circumstances have changed can be bittersweet.
I’m not certain I believe in “you can’t go home again,” in a blanket sense, but as we get older, our notions of home are more fluid and more complex. We have an appreciation of what we have left, how much has changed, how we have changed.
In my own way, I was reflecting on home this morning as well. I truly cannot go home again. And as I approach empty nest, I struggle with my own need to find a more suitable place to live (and a less lonely one), with the knowledge that I’d like my sons to have a “home” to come to. A place where they feel safe and can bring their own children some day.
Perhaps we have many homes of different sorts at different times. We carry their essence in our memories, as we move on to new stages.
Rudri – this is a wonderful reflection on what it means to be home. And I wish I could evoke some of the feelings you’ve rediscovered here at the end of your post when I go home.
Every time I go back to mine (which isn’t often – once in three years), it seems like something changes for me that distances me away from the home of my childhood. My mom’s move to a different house, and the brand new highways and buildings that change the face of my hometown, make it difficult for me to feel that sense of familiarity and belonging that people often associate with their home.
I’m glad you are able to look beyond a painful memory and see instead the warmth that you’re surrounded with the moment you’re there. I hope you enjoy your visit.
It us jarring to return to my first home, where I lived 18 years and my parents still live. So much has changed, so much is the same. But parts of me never lived there.
It’s less strange visiting our second home, where my babies were born. Less time has passed. Less in me has changed.
And then there are the family homes where the ghosts of my grandparents still delight.
Going back is bitter- sweet, the memories are stronger.
Home, sweet home. Or maybe it should be home, bittersweet home. Because the good and the bad make it all the more powerful of a place in their own way.
And on a lighter note, I have to know: Did you don your big Dallas hair for the trip?? =>
Home is where the heart is.
All those memories cannot be discounted by one event, no matter how tragic, but it can take time to be able to see that again. Glad you are now able to, enjoy your visit back to Texas.
Laughter and loved ones; always a good combination whether home or away.
I hope you have a wonderful visit home and recapture that feeling of all the wonderful things that had been hidden benaeth the shadow.
Yes, sometimes that one very tragic memory can block out the hundreds of other good ones. But we must try not to forget them. Beautiful reminder this morning 🙂
Mmmm…complicated past. I’ve been working on the reconciling the good memories and bad memories. There are so few good ones, but it’s part of my healing journey. As I pick through the memories like walking through a field of stone I recall how my idea of home has evolved quite positively into something meaningful and bright. But the past is dark with some blank spots where memories should be and then, there’s memories that aren’t memories at all, but stories told over and over again so I wouldn’t forget. Then, tucked way back in a fog are other memories–good memories–and I work at blogging the good memories to remind me of where God has brought me and how much I’ve grown.
It sounds like you have a great family.
Home is a beautiful thing.
I, too, have had ambivalent feelings toward my hometown. Not because of any singular event (like you) but because it isn’t a place I remember with much fondness. My teen years were not exactly happy and I was glad to escape when I did.
Lately, though, I have felt a pull toward home. I realize that home is no longer about people I might see, but about the people I want to see. I come home to visit my family–parents and siblings–and that means very much to me.
I hope your trip is wonderful!
I am living in what my family considers our hometown, though most people around here have friendships that reach back to pre-school (yes, even the oldies like me).
Never thought I’d say this, but I feel a strange comfort in living here and raising my children here. In taking them to the same events I went to at their ages. However, I am different than I was then, and I am treated differently than I was then.
And so, yes, bittersweet. And comfortable. And brand new.
I am glad that you were able to remember all the happy memories as well. But it does take time to reconcile it all, especially when the one unhappy event is so huge…it can seem to have the power to momentarily obliterate all that has been good.
I can relate as I had just gone through something similar, after visiting my home. I grew up with mixed and many unhappy memories. The only thing that helped me was removing myself physically. In fact, I went as far as living overseas for almost a decade. I am back in the US and out of state and it is only now that I feel I can more or less go home as the adult me, rather than the child me.