I don’t know where my home is.
I’ve always been bad at directions
- My parents got me a GPS well before I owned a car.
- I once spent many dollars confusedly going back and forth on a tollroad, even with said GPS.
- Another time, I drove an hour into North Carolina before realizing I was heading east on the highway and not, as I had assumed, west towards Tennessee. Turns out terms like “east” and “west” aren’t up for interpretation.
But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I can find my apartment, like, most of the time now, okay? I just don’t know where my home is.
At a wedding last fall, old friends, now scattered all over the country, came together to celebrate one of our own’s love. There was dancing and drinking and remembering.
It was beautiful to see friends grow up and fall in love and pursue dreams and become intelligent creative young adults. It was inspiring to see ideas we mused about as college students coming to fruition before our very eyes. But also, as so frequently happens, the sweet was lined with the bitter. Because I missed sitting in a crowded apartment with bottles of wine and and empty Whataburger bags. I missed watching trashy television and laughing at stupid jokes. I missed driving in cars smushed full of people singing loudly to bad pop music up and down Texas highways.
Though I’d known it for awhile (the minute I got in the car and drove out of the parking lot of a Torchy’s Tacos) in the midst of this wedding, the reality hit me hard: that time was over.
And I silently mourned it.
Friendship was not over. New memories would be made, are already being made, and they are so so sweet. But that precious time of crowded apartments and smushed cars and unhurried nights of all of us together is over.
Growing up is weird.
New friends are lovely, though. Actually, they’re more than lovely.
I was lonely when I first moved to Tennessee. The long, drawn-out kind of lonely that doesn’t manifest in tears and liquor, but instead just becomes the comfortable heartbeat of the everyday.
You know how hot chocolate is so much tastier after you’ve spent hours in the cold? Actually, you might not because the south is a magical tropical paradise. I spent years in Michigan before our family realized life didn’t have to be so… frozen. Just a few hours south, people spoke the same language and had many of the same customs, but they didn’t have to shovel driveways and their breath was always invisible. Magical. But in the years before this realization, my mother would shoo us outside at the first sign of snow. My mother still prefers frozen wastelands to tropical paradises and thinks the bitter cold is worth the magic of a snowfall. So my sisters and I would throw on eighteen or nineteen layers of clothes, snowsuits, coats, gloves, scarves, and hats jammed on heads and over ears until that all was left was an inch of skin between forehead and nose. We would wobble outside to sled and throw snowballs and make snow angels. When that inch of skin was as red as cherries and felt like literal needles were stabbing our faces, we’d wobble back inside.
Where hot chocolate awaited.
(By the way, not to brag, but did I not have THE CUTEST childhood??)
That hot chocolate was so much richer and warmer and tastier than any other. Because it came after the freeze. It came after the numb. It would quickly warm us up from the inside out in the sweetest way.
And that’s how new friendship was for me.
Because similarly (though much less deliciously) I have a much deeper thankfulness for good ole fashioned friendship after moving and experiencing actual loneliness for possibly the first time ever that first year in Tennessee.
These new friends are not just lovely – they are my hot chocolate after a snowball fight. One honest, enjoyable encounter after another brought life to numb fingers and warmth to cold toes.
And yet, new friends do not replace old ones. As new friendships form, old ones can’t just move to the left, to the left, everything they own in a box to the left. (Quick nod to the rarely seen meanderings&rambling Beyonce reference.) I’m into multiplying, not replacing. Friends are not like lightbulbs or phone chargers or dinner plates. They’re more like old books and handmade quilts and the records you played over and over to get you through that one time in your life.
A night more recently, I sat in another apartment. There were bottles and bags, bad pop songs and stupid jokes. It was the same. And my toes weren’t numb. But even in the sameness, it was different. Because time has passed and I’m different and jokes are different and people and states are different.
Tennessee doesn’t have Whataburger, you know?
They say home is where the heart is; but my heart doesn’t know where she is. And so this is where I’m left: Missing and loving people all over the country because they’re all darlings with stories and quirks and traits that make them individual and wonderful and irreplaceable. This causes experiences to often be bittersweet. It causes me to be confused, because if home is where the heart is, I can’t for the life of me tell where my roots are.
It also makes life more expansive and hot chocolatey.
I am a big fan of people being people, friendship being safe, humans being different, and life being expansive and interesting and hot chocolatey. I hope to meet you and love you and miss you someday as well, reader. The good thing about Jesus is that someday we will all be together. We’ll be able to love without the bitter. We’ll be able to move without missing. And we’ll still be able to live expansively and hot chocolately. And I guess that’s the idea anyway: if home is where the heart is, my heart is a tad more attached to Jesus than any of you dummies.
So maybe I don’t need roots after all. Maybe none of us do.