I have a hard time knowing what to call home.
There’s the little apartment I live in with my very lovely and wonderful girlfriend and our two cats. I hang shelves sometimes; I make coffee every morning and Tim-Taylor the vacuum cleaner so it’ll pick up all the little nefarious pieces of litter from the carpet. We are inexplicably shunned by neighbors and when we flush the toilet a low vibrating hum drones out from somewhere within the walls.
She and I share a bed, kiss each other good night, and sometimes do it again later when the first goodnight kiss leads to other diversions. Sometimes she gets the place all smoky from cooking breakfast sausage and sometimes I throw away important things while in a rapture of cleaning.
Our living room is a landmine of cat toys that we step on or trip over. We have an outlet with at least three more things plugged into it than there should be. There’s a small war of clothing and sundries on the floor of her side of the bed, while my side is clean as the runway of the Virgin Mary’s private jet.
There’s a rug over the wire for the electric blanket. I know my way around in the dark. I’ve learned its mysterious noises and those noises are now the noises of home.
It certainly feels like home.
Yet, on Friday, I heard myself tell some friends that instead of the Lord of the Rings movie-marathon we’d planned for Saturday, I was going to go home for the holiday.
As in…my parents’ house.
Best guess? March 10, 2007. That’s the last time I was there.
For some reason, between my receipt of The Moms’s SMS text message at 11:30 Thursday night and 6PM Friday, I’d decided it was time.
Time to go home.
The reasons are difficult to encapsulate. Ashley is at least somewhat responsible, engaging me in conversations about my family, inviting me to her family’s things where I would see and remember that while most families don’t really get along, they still go along.
I don’t know. Mostly, I just felt it was time.
We must avoid stasis. Not even death is static.
So it was time. Not to go home, exactly, but to visit my family. Because my family is not a place and my home is not my family.
I’ve spent nearly three years making that distinction.