I have finally written it. The exact letter that I have until this point, been petrified to write.
Mom talked about it in passing, but it never seemed serious, or plausible. But the talking got louder and compulsive. Then it was constant, though rooted in panic and doubt. After a while it was just words. New job. Change. Florida. College. Change. Santa Fe. Home. New Jersey. Summers. New job. Moving? Change. Jacksonville. Florida? Plane ride. Train ride. Change. Friends. Family here. We there? We might be moving moving. Goodbye. Goodbye.
How does one say goodbye, when they don’t have time to to realize that they’ve taken it all for granted? When he or she drives away from a structure knowing, but unable to understand or comprehend the weight of distance and time and change. And I mean all of this in most literal sense.
And the numbness was ubiquitous. Like novicaine of the mind, thought anestheic. The prescription for avoidance. Side effects—denial. I disconnected myself before they had their foot in the new door—ran away—arms flalling, ears plugged, eyes sewn shut. Took up chain smoking because of all the phone calls during that dry, cold autumn. Dad’s painting the walls, he is re-doing the kitchen, the cabinets are being stripped, the countertops replaced, the house is being packed, your closet is in boxes, do you want to keep all of your old journals and books?
I never got to see it, left before I could metabolize. Moving. Florida. New house. New home? I stretched my legs across a map one month before the disassembly of our family from your walls, planted myself in a new house—a secondhand adobe hut with two of my girlfriends—my family in transition, my lifeline, my comfort in silence, my constant. And it got to the point that I only thought of your attributes that weren’t the house. Like geography—the Garden State Parkway, the New Jersey Turnpike, Route 21 and 17, the skyline from the crests of hills throughout the county, the secret passage ways Mom taught us from before I could see over the dashboard, the suburban streets, Bloomfield Ave which runs through seven towns and guided my newly liscensed adventures at 16. The landscape—all your trees and shrubery, the manicured lawns and recycling bins at the curb, newly cropped McMansions, antiquated neighborhoods with quaint town centers, football fields, pizzerias and ice cream parlors. The street name. Our address, where we could be found, the train tracks that ran behind it, the 3am train that I only heard when the rest of the family slept.
You were a house and we were content. We were a family, a unit, a safety net and comfort object. Our energies danced together every night: in the kitchen, around the dinner table, in the drip drip of the coffee pot after meals in the summer when we didn’t need to run off to finish homework. Always a pot in the summer, and we drank every drop of hazelnut flavored Foldgers. We were a we there.
You are so many things and I have been carrying you with me all along. But why do you manifest yourself physical structures and the people I don’t see anymore? Why do you make me think about my place in this world, on a globe, a point on a map. Home, you are a tricky thing. Where have you gone?