Can you still call it home if you’ve lived elsewhere longer than all the years you spent growing up there? Can you still call it home if there are no living relatives there, just some boxes in your mom’s friend’s barn? I hope so, because I do.
It’s home because the sidewalk I scuffed along from the back screen door to the little building where my bike was stored is there. The little building that sat in the shade of the ash tree that turns a glorious yellow in the fall. The ash tree that shared the yard with a weeping birch with fronds that grew down to the grass making a cool and shady secret hiding place in the summer. (We cried when that tree had to be cut down. Perhaps the ash tree is gone now, too. I’m not sure I want to know because I remember how much it hurt to see that mom’s iris had been dug up. Will the maple in the front yard be gone?)
I’m going home at the end of the month, and it will be both home and not home in the same way that I am both the child who grew up there and not that child at all. There will be change and constancy, differences and similarities, familiar and unfamiliar. In the wind, I will hear echoes of my mother’s voice and my father’s laugh and on Main Street, I’ll be greeted by people who remember me but whose names I either never knew or can’t remember. And it will be okay. It will all be okay. I will be at home.