A word. A picture. A sound.
And it was unbearably hot. The best part of the day was the end, when the sun had just begun to descend but was still lingering. The temperature dropped to 80, and everything was brilliant. Lying on a blanket spread over a grassy spot in a new city, watching the sun dip down behind the Parthenon as the lightning bugs came out more abundantly than I had ever seen before, I felt the quintessence of summer, and it was yellow. Yellow until the very end.
Time of the Blue – The Tallest Man on Earth
Thankful for big cups of coffee. For really great socks. For parents who let me study the least lucrative things and defend me to their coworkers who are concerned for my future. For words. For all the good books I’ve read. For all the good books I haven’t read. For the fact that I will never run out of good books to read. For the smell of fall. For the changing leaves. For the rain and rain boots for splashing in puddles. For roommates who listen to me say the weirdest things. For pen pals who continually show me Jesus. For naps. For scented candles and handmade soap. For cuddles with a nice cat. For sweaters. For music. For dessert. For art that makes us less lonely. For stories to remind us of our sameness. For new experiences. For growth.
I’ve often wondered at the power of repetition. There is a certain magic in its duality, in how performing an action over and over can encourage fluidity and adroitness, but at the same time, laziness and banality. It reminds me of a game from my childhood, an attempt to ward off boredom, in which I would choose a word and say it again and again until it lost all meaning. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. And I would continue until the word was nothing but vowels and consonants, letters and sounds. As children, “home” is one of the first words that we learn, and consequently, it is one of the words that we use the most over the course of our lives. It jumps from our tongues so often and liberally that it calls to mind the childhood game. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Rote degrades the essence of home into its most stereotypical, conventional image. It’s no longer a presence or feeling of belonging, but simply a house, a roof with four walls, white shutters, and a red front door. It becomes a place, an object, an address. In the past year, I moved out of my parents’ house, my home, and into a dorm and then my first apartment. In aesthetics, function, and overall feeling, none of these places are the same. Yet, there are certain similarities, certain essences of “home,” that reveal themselves in each and remind me that home is not a structure but a presence. Home is laughter and tears, fights and celebrations, vulnerability and revealed secrets. Bare feet, open windows, and the smell of coffee in the morning. It’s four friends crowded onto one bed to do homework just so they can be with each other. It’s my dad and me dancing around the house to absolutely no music at all, and late-night discussions with my brother. It’s the advice of my mother, Sunday mornings at church, stacks of books, and the sound of my best friend singing as she goes about her day. As cliché as it may sound, in my first year away from my parents’ house, I’ve come to realize that although their house will always be my home, home can be found in places beyond where the foundation lies and in the places of connection and community.