“We built sandcastles”
The tacos sat on the table and whispered between bites were thoughts of coming home. How ironic that sometimes (read: most times) we don’t notice how far we’ve strayed until home is New York and we’ve ended up what feels lightyears away.
As another friend carried me in her hand, on her phone, and walked into her room, 3,000 miles away, she told me her coming home moment. A day in January when the picture in her mind of a bed she would be able to sink into was nothing more than an illusion. The open door, her in the middle of it all, looking at boxes that she hadn’t unpacked in 2 months, a bed that didn’t exist.
A few months ago I stared at a body that was mine, but also not. It’d shed pounds in some of my favorite places. It had lumps in a breast, which for six weeks lived inside me. It looked mine, but felt foreign. I stayed off the scale, as I mostly always do, but with every day that was added to the year, every pound that was added to me, I felt myself coming home. My body was rounder here and there in ways only fingertips would notice. It had a few “under the rug, hidden” marks that existed to be shared secrets between two.
Coming home usually happens in gradual steps. We’re first jolted with awareness of how much we’ve failed in giving ourselves safe spaces to melt into. We take stock of relationships and friendships that speak to ephemeral highs, but fail to speak to the person we are deep inside of our hearts. We read the letters, the ones sandwiched in a drawer and with envelopes that have yellowed over time, and we realize how at home we were then, how far we are from there now. There are moments when we stand in a room that houses all of our things but that has no space for us - the us we are when we unravel and let the baggage off our shoulders.
It’s disappointment and fear that are felt first. We’re overcome by sadness that pushes us to act and somehow simultaneously we find our feet cemented to the floor. Because in those moments, I’m learning, walking is too arrogant of an action. Instead the moment begs for humility and us on our knees humbly asking to be guided home, to be let back in, to be hugged when we get there.
I mistreated my body for months, to walk right back into it would have been both insulting and turned a blind eye to the damage done. I needed to admit I’d dishonored it and to learn from my mistakes. I humbly learned to appreciate and love every inch of the home it gave me, even if it wasn’t the home it once was. To be allowed back in at all, what a blessing.
Our minds and hearts are different stories. In ways that we know food and kindness can help feed our bodies, we trip so often on the things we feed our minds and hearts. It’s habit to feed them destructive questions without providing answers that help ease them.
“What did I do wrong?” Nothing, I should’ve said then. I say now.
“How do I open up my heart?” By asking the question you already did this, I say now. I didn’t say then.
“How do I forgive? Them? Myself?” By even making forgiveness an option, I say now. It wasn’t even on the table then.
“What’s the way home?” By way of your heart. The only lighthouse that has been my constant.
To make our way back home to our own hearts, to find it a safe place to be ourselves in, is trying. I’ve had to navigate through pain to get to my heart but I guess it’s similar to the Biblical verse that explains by grace through faith. We anchor ourselves in what our worthiness is. We remind ourselves that we’re capable of loving because we’ve done it before, but more than that, coming home gifts us the reality that to love now doesn’t have to be defined by how we loved then. I’ve sat in broken, hurt love before, to grow and learn through that pain and come out the other side of grief and loss is to allow myself a happier, purer, more resilient love. I come home to my own heart every time I let it show up in love that is worthy of the moment it is in now.
Everyone comes home in different ways, but I’m convinced it takes losing ourselves at times. It takes surrendering, often and intentionally. Those coming home moments call us to humbly accept both the notion that we were lost in the first place and the reality that we’re human and imperfect and yet, still worthy of safe, loving places to be ourselves. The acceptance of how our faults don’t impact our worthiness also helps define that being worthy of something in no way makes us entitled to it.
The best, safest homes are earned by virtue of showing up, of respecting the space, of sitting in gratitude for the four walls, the full hearts, the warm embraces that are born there. We take home for granted just as often as we take our loved ones for granted. To walk away from them, walk back expecting them to be the same, and realizing that they are more changed than we could have ever imagined — it’s necessary and humbling. It prompts intentionality in the steps we decide to take forward in building homes that make sense for us. It reminds us that home is never a place, instead it’s our body, our hearts, and our minds, and the people we choose to share the holy trinity of us with.