The end of our journey is to arrive back where we started and see it like for the first time. – T.S. Eliot
Y’all not from ’round here, are ya? – Ray, The Princess and the Frog
Home: Version 1
I left Hickory, NC for good the summer of 1998 and ceremoniously shook the dust off of my shoes as my parents’ car made its way north for 213 miles to the school where I would spend the next three years. I like to think that I never connected with North Carolina. Up to just a few years ago I still considered myself a New Yorker – despite the fact that I hadn’t lived there since just after my 9th birthday.
I left and only visited after.
Home: Version 2
I realize that I run from sociocultural identification. Somewhere buried under layers of associations and generalization a slender core of belief has been building in me regarding the feeling of and desire for home. It is the sense of loss and acceptance. It is a hope and goal. It is a belonging. It is the place that I have known all along but fought to replace with a location more appealing to my modern sentiments and way in which I wish to be defined and seen. It is an acceptance of the past.
The color and features are burned in my memory. I see faces and hear sounds. I see familiar shades of green and feel humidity in my pores. It is a part of who I am.
Home: Version 3
Home is a relationship with the invisible – a cosmic background radiation – a neurochemical reaction to a stimulus. It is an altercation, an invocation, a pronouncement. I feel the word slip through my teeth and settle with a soft finish; it is only a hesitation from the gentle “ohm” of Hindu meditation. I can feel the word as an exhalation.
But I do not visit home or feel it. Home is a series of Proustian encounters. It is an engagement with thoughts which form the foundation of all ideas that follow and find you when you are alone. Home is what you wish to give to those most clearly able to define it: the child on the back of a milk carton, a soldier in a foreign war, a drunk asleep on a bench. Home is the eradication of suffering in the bed monsters once clawed out from under.
A home is the settling in of home. A home is a tension between building and tenant. A home absorbs the very best and worst of a dweller. A dweller absorbs the best and worst of home.
I run from and to home. I dip in my toes and then shake off my feet immediately; home is seen as the beginning of something that was with you all along. I am not a feeling and neither is home. We are a geography laden with signifiers.
Mine is grown over with kudzu and soundtracks: a stolen stop sign, a first love, a bass line, a family waiting at the door. Mine is a country with a swollen river, a broken chair, a suffocating heat. There is something here for me but I will never again possess it.
I pick up home like a ball and play with it for moments at a time, as though I am building up muscles that have long ago atrophied. I interact: I am the one who interacts and brings my self to a place of home. It is home who is patient and ever present while I leave and return.
Am I home? The action of my being home is a token conveying the meaning of the home as a signifier. I am the home which is present in the home. Without me there is no home for me to be present within. Home is the objet petit a: I desire to be a part of it such as it is part of me.
There is only one way for me to escape the allure of home: to accept it. To accept you must cover your feet with the dust you once shook off.