Home is Where the Ache Is
I am breaking this horrible blog silence to be a part of Elizabeth’s “Blog Carnival” on Home. If you click here you can read her post on Home, while also sampling the delicious words of a handful of others taking part in this here Carnival.
The day was yesterday, the time was 11:05pm Eastern standard, and I was in seat 15A on a flight bound for upstate New York. The lady in seat 15B was the chattiest of any of my seat neighbors in the day’s three connections from Los Angeles to Albany. But she instantly won me over with her grandmotherly spirit and the fact that she was fiddling with an awkwardly shaped musical instrument upon her arrival.
“Usually if I jiggle it just so under the seat, it will fit. Honest, it will!”
Her weird instrument is a lyre. I know nothing of lyres except for the Psalm that says something about “awakening the harp and lyre.” I always thought that sounded pretty. The lady in seat 15B is my temporary friend and I really do want to hear about her weird instrument.
“Are you going home?” she asks.
I do not normally chat with my seat neighbors on aeroplanes. Not, that is, unless you are one notably uncomfortable, noticably grouchy pregnant lady, and not unless I happen to have freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to share with you, as it happened on connection #1, just as we were about to land in Pittsburg. Not, as it were, unless I feel cosmically bound to offer you, prego-lady, a delicious cookie a second time (though you politely said, “no” the first time and I knew you did not mean it) being as I had wept all over my new moleskine journal while we were at 30,000 feet. I knew you weren’t asleep, and I imagine your motherly instincts might have kicked in as you awkwardly watched me cry while sitting in between two strangers, but we’d had no previous neighborly-seat conversation to merit your inquiring of my tears. Since this probably caused you inner frustration, I felt I ought to offer a cookie to console you. (Twice.) And then we chatted about the laurels of good cookies made in real kitchens. And that was that.
“I’m sort of going home,” I tell the lady in seat 15B with the lyre at her feet. And then I let her know that I’m flying back to New York for my Grandma’s funeral. She tells me she’s sorry for that.
What I do not tell her is that my Grandma suffered from Alzheimer’s for twenty years, and it feels as if we slowly lost her day by day. I do not tell her that in many ways, Grandma’s final breaths have been as hands opening a ledger book of deeper losses.
I do not tell the lady in 15B that her benign are-you-going-home question has erupted in me an inner dialogue of secret narration that would loosely become a blog about “home.”
We land in Albany, she wiggles out her lyre, and we nod our goodbyes. She is going home, and her husband is waiting to drive her there. Her ride home will consist of stories from her visit with their four year old grandson, how Alabama’s weather was much milder than Pougkeepsie’s, and how much she missed him.
The more I consider the idea of home, the more I believe that home is where the ache is. It is not a geography of latitudes and longitudes. It is not just a bloodline or a shared surname. Home is where you ache from the violence of separation, however temporary or eternal that separation might be.
(Photo by Vox_Efx)