Leaving home was so much harder this time.
In July, I set out fueled by convictions and fresh resolutions. Everything had a reason. I was part of a larger plan. I had a new haircut. I left home feeling light.
Then in August, news of my uncle’s death brought with it the first whispers of uncertainty. All I wanted for a moment was the texture of the comforter from my parents’ bed, to bury my face in it, roll over, and float like on an ocean between the two jetties of my parents’ bodies. Instead, I had a phone.
Whenever you try to explain distance between two people, at some point somebody will invariably say, with technology these days…
And that somebody would be right about technology these days, except do you really want to skype someone who’s mourning? So the way I found out my uncle died was over the phone, and the way I comforted my parents was over the phone, and the way I realized how heavy the distance can make a person feel was over the invisible threads stretching thin to deliver me home.
I didn’t feel alone, but I felt like a deserter.
Then in December, the body of a young classmate from college turned up. Shortly after that, a dear family friend went too.
Somewhere along the way I started saying, X more days until I’m home for Christmas. It was a secret anxiety fluttering against my abdomen that left me feeling a few degrees further from invincible.
When I did get home the dog had been put down, and maybe it seemed to be about me at that point. Like death was lurking, teasing, leaving its creepy residue all over life. People tend to say, “You just never know.” What I felt was the sad, private question, who’s next?
The loss was enough for July’s fresh resolutions and convictions to dry up by January. It was almost enough to keep me home, except that staying home wouldn’t really be about familiar comforts or peace of mind. The desire to stay home came from the impossible dream of freezing time, to avoid loss or guilt or fear.
Whatever way we decide to live, all those things will still be around. Time moves on, and life remains unpredictable, curious, chaotic, and uncomfortable. The best way I know to live is to keep learning, and the thing that keeps teaching me most is travel. So here I am, counting my blessings, gathering my strength, setting out on the next leg of the journey.