They say home is where the heart is, but what if one’s heart longs for someplace else? They say home is where your people are, but what if your people are everywhere? Home. Where is it? What could it look like? Is it here?
Recently, DJ and I returned from a trip to the Pacific Northwest where we spent a good ten days in the company of good people, all of whom made us feel intentionally at home in a new and unfamiliar place. Perhaps it was this outpouring of radical hospitality that has us now, a week later, feeling so out of place. How could such a profound experience of connection lead us to such a profound experience of loneliness? It’s a strange feeling; a rut in the pit of our stomachs.
A couple years ago our friend Phillip sent us this poem by Richard Wilbur:
What is the opposite of road?
I’d say the answer is abode.
“What’s an abode?” you ask.
I’d say it’s ground that doesn’t lead away—some patch of earth where you abide.
Because it makes you satisfied.
Abodes don’t take you anywhere,
Because you are already there.
I like this poem and read it often.
Can one lust after a place? Or long for a feeling? Seems we have been. This is the first time in recent memory we’ve returned from a vacation questioning everything. Are we where we’re supposed to be? Is this the place we’re really ready to commit to? Cincinnati...really? Today, our view from the kitchen window seems tainted with vacationer’s goggles. Where are the mountains? Home. We’re chasing feelings.
Home. The joy of crisp ocean air on your cheeks while pedaling fast down protected bike lanes in Seattle. Home. Waking to the smell of perfectly brewed coffee and a bowl of fresh oatmeal, enjoyed over deep conversation around a small table with close friends. Home. The pleasure of walking for miles and miles on dusty trails. Home. Relaxing in the backyard with a family who’ve opened their fridge, calendar and lives to you—because they love you. Home. Is it the place we’re after or the people? I know enough to know the answer to that question.
We spent our first evening back in Cincinnati—our home today—at an improv class. We walk to class and pass by an old church building that now houses a brewery, taking in the eclective scenery of our Northside neighborhood. Brooklin greets us at the door with a hug. She’s missed us. More smiling faces wait inside. Joey. Seth. Sarah. Mary sees me from across the room and promptly leaves her conversation partner to plant a sweet kiss on my right cheek. She’s lovely.
Home. Is this our place? Today it is. We play improv games and laugh for a solid ninety minutes until we forget that sinking feeling in our guts. Home. Our people are here.
I ride the bike share to work the next morning. We make plans to cook dinner for friends later in the week. I write this while sipping freshly brewed coffee and waiting for the oats to boil. Home. It’s here.