I came home from home a week ago.
I so distinctly remember my first goodbye at the airport in Atlanta. I hugged my then-boyfriend, followed by all of my family and after an about-face I burst into unstoppable tears. Overburdened with the prospect of living in Africa for two years without those I loved most close-by was a heavy load to port, as were the two massive carry-on bags I had managed to heft onto me. I toted a backpack carrying my must-have items (kindle, computer, and journal) and a beach bag that looked more like a beach ball, forced full of clothing. It would later serve as a makeshift pillow on my flights, and I would be grateful. But as I stumbled and sniffled towards the security-check line, I was not grateful for much, especially not the plane ticket I clenched that would take me to Cameroon.
This time the tear tally managed to stay at zero, and my goodbyes felt more like team high-fives than sentimental separations. They were all channeling the mood of “See you soon” rather than “Oh, lord, please make it back alive”. I was still overburdened with crap strapped to my body, but now I stumbled only half as much, and sniffled not one bit.
I am, in effect, homeless. This sounds much more depressing and dire than it should. In fact, I have many homes I could go to, place I could live and prop up my feet and order pizza, or puff puff and beans depending on the continent, and lead a merry life. But currently, as I type, I no longer have a specific place in mind when people say home. It could be the West Coast, where my parents moved this time last year, or it could be my sister’s house, only ten minutes from the door I closed behind me when I left for Peace Corps. But, it could also be Cameroon, and Bali, and this apartment, where all my stuff lives and I am free to be pants-less whenever I feel the call.
Or it could be a place I haven’t been to. Or, a place I haven’t even thought of yet. And while that possibility would have been terrifying only two years ago, now it is liberating. I suppose once you’ve boarded a plane to a place, sight-unseen, once the chance of doing it again somehow goes up. No matter where I go, It could never be as strange as disembarking to a place that sell porcupines on sticks roadside and smell vaguely of soap and car-exhaust, and it could certainly never be as strange as disembarking a second time, taking a big breath in, and thinking “home”.