I’ve been home for three years, six months, and twenty-one days and I still thank God for that every single day. Notably every time I take the dog out. I like to stand in my back yard and marvel over the clouds or the stars or the trees or the flowers or the fireflies — you get it — and say aloud, “God it’s good to be home.” This time of year is particularly easy to be grateful, because it’s cool and pretty, but even in the dread heat of August, I still do it. In Georgia, it was never so green.
Home is decidedly green.
I could likely make a home anywhere green.
Were I ever to leave this place, which I cannot imagine, green would still be my number one criteria. Four seasons. Hard freeze, cause tulips. If tulips can’t grow there, then neither can I.
Home is where you know all the places in time frames. All the places mean something, contain a memory. The neighborhoods that were once yours, schools you attended, places your parents took you. Home is full of nostalgia.
You can learn all a place’s places and make a home and still never find home. Trust me, I know.
I spent seven years homesick, every autumn a misery.
For me, I was a stranger in a strange land.
Would I have felt such a stranger in New England or in other parts of the Midwest? Probably not. But in bleak, flat, brown landscapes, I know I don’t belong. Where palm trees grow beside stucco homes, I do not belong. In places where scheffleras grow out of doors and pansies are winter plants, I do not belong.
I have always known this. I need grass and trees, and most importantly, I need the snow and ice.
There were times I prayed I wouldn’t die in Georgia. Beggar’s Prayers. please god don’t let me die here.
Did I long to return to my roots? No. Did I need nostalgia? No.
I longed for those four seasons. Familiar landscapes that make my heart sing.
But as a parent, I had other yearnings as well. I said to Beefy once, “Imagine your kid has never built a snowman, or found a buckeye, or held a woolly worm.” Unfathomable to those of us who live in this region.
As a parent, I felt insufficient about teaching them their natural environment, because that environment was unnatural to me. I had to call my mother, the southerner…
“What the hell are these trees with the yellow pods?”
“How big do horseshoe crabs GET?”
“A dragonfly took my baby!”
We actually didn’t choose to return to Indy. Not that we don’t love it, it’s a part of us, and we do love it, but we’d planned to settle elsewhere in the region, not that the job market cared.
Now and again, a friend of mine says she can’t understand why people stay where they are. She’ll ponder over how some people never left her hometown, while she herself has lived all over the country.
I counter her by saying some people belong to places. Those people who never leave, they’re the backbones of their communities. It’s always been this way. Natives, formal and otherwise, are essential.
I don’t know that I belong here, but I know I don’t not belong here, and that’s a reason enough to count my blessings.
Have you found or made a home? What’s home for you?