I see my people, my family, at most, three times a year. I’ve lived a day’s drive away from them since the day I went to college. I was seventeen years old. Those who know me well also know my family well because we are a closely-bound group. We have shared a uniquely-spun journey, the four of us, and I hold them very close to my heart. I think this is because in so many ways they are my heart. They have loved me well, and for a woman who consistently struggles to accept such things, I understand the significance of their offering, of their intentions. They are my family, in every sense of the word.
However, the past few years have brought changes. I have changed. We have grown up. Life has taught lessons that I haven’t always wanted to learn. And somewhere along the way, I became who I am, which I think, is not exactly who I was expecting to become. Maybe I thought I would be working towards building a story alongside someone else. Maybe I thought I would be seeing and traveling the world in exorbitant ways. Maybe I thought I would laugh more and create more and share more than I have been able to do. And isn’t this the way of it? We become who we are despite who we thought we’d become. We fall in love with ourselves despite the things that try to convince us otherwise. At least, this is how it feels to me. Coming home when you are twenty-two and reckless is one thing. Coming home when you are thirty and learning to love your life is another.
Recently, I was sitting across the table from my mother. I sat, looking at her face as she spoke, at the pull of her skin and the color of her hair and the shape of her lips and I felt myself lift beyond the room to a space worn in by her experience and by her life. I watched her speak from a place beyond my role as her daughter. I listened to her share as though I was a stranger, as though I was hearing her voice and her tenor for the first time. I watched her graceful angles and noticed the way her hands wrapped around a mug I’ve used a hundred times before. I looked across from me and saw a woman that I’d never fully seen. And I tried to be still. I tried to breathe it all in, the experience of looking at a face so familiar that maybe I’d stopped looking at it at all. She is beautiful, my mother, and I know this with such certainty. But sometimes I forget. I forget until I take the time to remember.
We are all adjusting, my family and I, to our ever-evolving roles in one anothers lives. I am learning to take the time to remember what I know. We are learning to be still and listen. And my parents, well, they are learning to make space for their awkward thirty-year old daughter who still insists on coming home for two-week intervals, just because she can. Because sometimes the best and most difficult remedy is to surround yourself with the people that fell in love with you long before you began to fall in love with yourself. This is family. This is what it feels like to be home.