I still think about one month ago. For the first time, my youngest got to meet my family for a weekend, only to turn around and come back to Georgia once again. A wedding was the excuse for Matt to drive an insane amount of miles in such a short time, but I would ask him to do it again; for during that brief stay, my heart never felt more at home.
When we crossed over the state line into New Jersey, I shared the same excitement as my kids in the back of the van, and not merely because the 15 hour ride was coming to an end. I was coming home. And from the first hugs and kisses, I felt like we had never left.
We celebrated the union of my cousin to his new wife, and Caleb found a hero in T.J. It’s not uncommon now for the kids to put on their dress-up clothes and pretend they’re T.J. and Sara, marrying once again.
And we laughed. I don’t laugh with anyone like I laugh with my family, and it’s refreshing to sit in the company of those who can let go and truly enjoy each other. I tend to sit more quietly than the rest–I’ve never been as extroverted as the bunch (although, even I have opened up more in recent years)–but hearing the jokes and the loud laughs while the smell of sauce and my uncle’s pizza travel from the kitchen to the table filled spaces in me that I didn’t realize were empty. After a night around his table, I was full.
Someone once said, “Home is where the heart is.” I hesitate to write something so cliche, but sometimes the cliches are too true to dismiss. I’ve always had a horrible memory, but as we drove through my old neighborhood, I immediately recognized the pond that froze over in the winter and the time my baby sister got pegged with snowballs from big kids on the other side. I knew exactly how to get to the playground, the playground where I watched planes wondering if my dad was in one of them (he told me he saw me from the sky. I was wearing a red jacket). I saw the old diner where I learned how to sound out ‘ham-bur-ger,’ and I remembered the coin shop where my dad worked, and the upstairs window from where we all watched the parade below.
And our old house. My first memories were formed here. Running around in the back yard. The cookout where I waited next to the volleyball net patiently for a turn to throw the ball. Making birthday cakes for my dad every week with my ‘Easy Bake’ oven. Learning how to color in the lines. Sharing a room with my sister. Jumping off the radiator while singing “Wake me up, before you go-go!” with my mom. All these memories from when I was four and five resurfaced as we stopped in front of our little dollhouse.
I have many homes now. Home is with the people who hold my heart. Home is with the town that holds my memories. Home is the place that I can leave only to come back and find myself once again.
I don’t want to move back to New Jersey. My life is with my husband and children in Georgia. We have our church, our friends–we have planted roots at our own home. Yet the wife and mother that they love, part of her is because of all of them.
Where is home for you?