As we drove around the city, I couldn’t help but wonder how people do it, how people live here. City life…I mean, I get it. It’s a beautiful city, bustling with more energy and diversity than Elton John’s underwear drawer. Cotton candy homes line the hilly streets – up and down and up and down and up and down again. Italian, Korean, Greek, Peruvian, my mouth waters as my mind takes mental note of all the places I’ll need to eat at. We pass AT&T park, then the Transamerica building aka “the pointy building”. I can see the Bay bridge in the distance. And I get this Dorothy kind of feeling…we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Last night was my mom’s last night in town before heading back to the beehive state. We spent it in the city, listening to big bands on pier 39 and eating copious amounts of seafood and chocolate ice cream (a natural combination). It was late when we finished eating dinner and I bid a tearful goodbye to the last piece of home left to lose, my momma. It’s been a slow transition to our new life here by the bay, but that last goodbye really hit home, or rather, took home away and made me feel (despite my fullness) a little…empty.
On the drive home I looked with pleading eyes over at Henry and he offered a sympathetic smile, a professional mind-reader. But I can see past those brown eyes of his and I can tell, he’s a little sad too. We passed a homeless man, sitting upright on a bench, with a blanket draped ghost-like over his head, successfully creating his own personal living space. Genius, I thought. Even that guy had a home. Impressed at his resourcefulness, I filed the idea away to use for later. We made it back to the house and stumbled sleepily to our room and crawled into bed.
I looked over to see Henry with headphones in, his iPad light flickering. I peaked over to see what he was watching. A sign came across the screen, “Stars Hollow.” Without any prompting, he starts to sing along to the Gilmore Girls theme song, headphones still in place. I grabbed his hands and there we were, having a Dr. Seuss “Whoville” moment, singing along to the Gilmore Girls theme song. “I needed something that reminded me of easier times…of home!” he declared mid song. Just when I thought I couldn’t love him any more…
We both share in the common understanding that we have no idea what we’re doing or how we’re going to get through this. We get mad at each other sometimes because we really just want someone to blame for why we feel at times so lost and angry and why we long for a home and a time separate from the tubes, and the tests, and the twists and turns. Much like the San Francisco streets, our life seems to take us up and down and up and down and up and down again. There are moments so high and sweet and sacred that my chest can hardly contain my heart. And then there are moments that feel so bleak and hopeless that I wonder if this emptiness and numbness inside will ever level out.
Where is home?
I feel like I’m always searching for it. And just when I think I’m comfortable where I’m at, something changes. But it’s more than where you live, isn’t it? It’s more than a park bench or 12-bedroom estate. It’s this ache in my gut, for a dwelling beyond four walls, a door and some windows. It’s this longing I have for some future space and state of mind that always seems just out of reach.
But what if home lies as much in the past as it does the future. Maybe home is the place I came from before I came to earth and that’s why I’m always left searching — because it’s always going to be ahead of me. Maybe that longing I feel is remembering a place that I once belonged and the desire I have to make it back.
Maybe. I’m no “home” expert. And it’s different for everyone, I’m sure. But what I do know is that for now, I feel home whenever I walk into an LDS chapel. I feel home, laughing with my new “adoptive” family and friends. I feel home with a bowl full of cherries. I feel home in a Gilmore Girls theme song. And I feel home in the heart of a man singing,
“Where you lead, I will follow
Anywhere that you tell me to
If you need, you need me to be with you
I will follow where you lead”