Much of the journey is emotional and spiritual, but there is some irony in the fact that five years ago I moved into the Upper West Side Manhattan apartment in which I grew up. So, my journey home has been literal, too. My parents passed away after long wretched illnesses and in order to save the apartment, I moved in to make it my primary residence. Now, there's definitely very good reason people say you can't go home again. Ghosts. Memories. The faint echo of harsh voices. The hushed heaviness of grief. The whispers of promise. The vapors of growing up. The swirling dusts of memory twined with present, triggered by the dent in the sideboard from banging into it on roller skates and hearing mom, "Don't do that! How many times do I have to tell you?!"; the acrid cigarette and coffee and Old Spice dad-smell imbedded in that chair, the quicksilver out-of-the-corner-of-my-eye deja-vu over and over again. Have I been here before? Yes, I have.
I've become convinced that facing ghosts is absolutely critical to my well-being, to my growing up as an adult. In facing them, braving them. In braving them, vanquishing them. Putting them in their rightful place--a place not nearly as powerful or important as who I am now, the little-girl-turned-adult-woman who is making herself a home. Indeed, I have made myself at home. The primitive Americana sideboard graces the dining room; the musty upholstered furniture has all gone to Goodwill; the windows are open and the most amazing leaves and little bugs come visiting from Central Park; my family is here filling the rooms with laughter and ideas and plans; and the little storage room behind the kitchen that mom always intended to clean out so she could have an office ("someday...") has become my office.
"Home" has many definitions. One is "at ease." It is all we can hope for that we grow up, letting our childhoods inform who and what we will be as adults, in order to be at ease with ourselves. Coming home.
(c) emma d dryden, drydenbks LLC