The first time I moved away from home, it happened so fast I can't even tell you how we pulled it off. The university called, that I ultimately received my BA from, and said, "Tiffany, we have a spot for you, are you coming, school starts in less than two weeks and we haven't heard from you?" I had just had my heartbroken, didn't look for my grandmother to even ask, and simply replied a resounding, "yes, ill be there." Turns out, my family was so excited, I had nothing to fear. I was 19, I think they were ready for me to go!
My aunt and uncle came from the next city over and began taking a strict inventory over everything I had, everything I could take, and everything I needed. Thank god because I would have just packed some clothes, shoes, and toiletries and been on my way. Towels? Food? Entertainment? Who woulda thought! Had I taken the, at the time, Carrie Bradshaw replica-closet I had, my shoes alone would not have fit into that tiny little room they gave me, of which I only got to occupy half!
But I digress. After four years in the dorms, and two years in a small apartment while attempting graduate school, I came home. And while there was comfort, familiarity, there was also contentment, laziness. Such an anti-intellectual cesspool of nothingness that I felt my brain rotting almost when I crossed the county line. For the next nine years, my brain continued onto a path of utter lethargy, settling for less and less stimuli, until the point of pure life maintenance. I got up, I worked, I came home, I slept. I paid bills in between, found a man here and there, went shopping with the girls, but I was simply maintaining my life. And not very well I might add. I gained weight. I felt horrible. I had no promising objectives and rarely did I ever think of obtaining any. This was it right? This was life?
When I was eight years old, I was sitting on the top step of our house, which, subsequently, was the first step in my room. I had a notebook in one hand and a pen in the other, and I wrote. I always had. But that day, I remember the thought as it drove its way through my mind on its very own course, "I am going to be a writer one day." From my subconscious it emerged, potentially from somewhere else depending on what you believe. But I knew it all my life as well as I knew my own name. It was who I was, no matter where I was, or when it was. Every day, I analyzed life as a researcher breaking down what I could and could not use, observing others in ways most people didn't realize, keeping mental notes. To describe to you the way I have trained my mind to remember everything I can, would be an impossibility. It is just who I am, an exercise I enjoy. And someone wanted me to know it that day.
What happened though, when I came home again, was that it vanished. Maybe not vanished, but got derailed, buried, deprioritized under the weight of bills, jobs, boyfriends, deaths, mania, depression, moving more, volunteering, living, OMG IT'S TOO F-ING HARD sometimes. My writing went stagnant. Ten years passed since I had written anything significant. Ten years went past since I had tried. But, life has an interesting way of intervening. I took a year off from life. All the extras anyway, no men, a few vacas, time for myself, a sabbatical if you will. Year ten. I knew I was lost. Unloved. Totally alone. Without a clearly identifiable purpose. Year ten.
A former colleague of mine announced that she was getting published, in a real book, about a real author we all know. In that moment it was as if my entire being split right in half, straight down the middle; but both of me were crying the hardest cry I'd ever managed. One half was experiencing the absolute greatest joy and satisfaction I had ever known for another human being. Indescribable from one end to the other. Ecstasy. The other half, began to mourn the ten years I lost while I worked as a maintenance woman on my so called life.
That day, that break, was everything I ever needed to go home again. Sitting at that top step, telling myself I am a writer, I have a purpose, I am here for some good; so I managed to pull a warm blanket over the now missing half of me and took comfort in rediscovering my home, as it had been there deep inside myself this whole time. A little tacky, I am aware.
But truthfully, in the end, what we have is our soul, our own make-up, who we are inside. Get to know that person as deeply and truly as you can. Honor them every single day. In the years I've spent on this planet, my only amazement that I experience comes from the way everything changes, continually, and without warning. All I have ever truly had is me. And when I let her wander off, I lost sight of her and never went looking. Someone else brought her back. We're not all that lucky. Sometimes lost stays lost. But sometimes, you're so uniquely you, that someone else will recognize you and return you home. You can always go home again, because home merely rests inside of you.