crying in public

10/1/22: Home, or something

It's nighttime, October first. I spent most of the evening cooking a stew my mother used to make, one of my favorite things to eat since I was a kid. No one else is around tonight, so I ate it alone at the table with the heels of a loaf of bread. Afterwards I washed the kitchen and took the trash out- it's not quite shivery-cold, but the air has a little bite to it. It feels fresher to breathe, and the smell of leaves is already there. There was a car idling in the lot and people loading items back and forth from it. I could see one of my upstairs neighbors on his balcony. The moon, which you can only glimpse through the trees if you move your head around, is very tall and thin and yellow, a perfect sort of storybook crescent moon. I put the trash in the bin and came back inside, and walking in the air transitioned from that crisp outdoorsiness to the warmth of the house and the lingering smell of the stew still in the air. It took me by surprise and I realized in a moment that it smelled truly like home, that if I closed my eyes I might as well have been walking into my parents' house, to the warm and always-bustling kitchen, and my mom setting dinner on the table, my siblings and their partners and kids all squeezed around the table, the dogs nosing at my ankles.

But with my eyes open, I was just alone in my quiet apartment. And I missed home so much I ached, except it was a bunch of things at once. It was missing the house as it is now when I visit. The house as it was before I moved out, when it was just me and my parents learning how to fill the empty space. The house as it was when I was growing up, decorated and messy and overrun with squabbling children. The house as it is every time I enter after being away for a while, welcoming and worn and just home, no matter how much it changes. I always walk in and the warmth, the lights, the smell, all hit me right in the heart.

That's not to say that where I live now isn't my home. I think I'm slow on the uptake, the knowing and feeling that more than once place can be home. I lived with my parents for a very long time, longer than most people do where I'm from. I didn't think I would ever leave, and I was very afraid when I had to. For a while it really didn't work out, until I ended up here. I love it here. We keep halloween decorations up all year, although the most garish and fun ones come out in October. We have a nice green accent wall in the living room. We cook for each other, we share groceries, we hang out and watch movies, we go out together and, much more often, stay in together. We love each other dearly. It was an absolute revelation to me to live with other queer people, to share in our community and culture together, to not have to hide or tone down anything about ourselves. It was a door opened. It made me realize that I actually wanted to move out of my parents' house; that I would not flourish there the way I can out here. It's a bittersweet thing.

I think I'll always miss my first home, where I was born and grew up and settled into adulthood, where I was secure even as time slipped through my fingers. But I wouldn't give up this new home, where I have room to evolve, to explore, to become. And I know this will not be the last home I have. It makes me feel a lot of ways, happy and sad and stressed. But there are things within my reach no matter where I am. I made the same stew my mother always made, and when my roommates get home, they'll eat it too, and we'll pop in a DVD and stay warm together in the place we made our own.

Autumn always makes me so nostalgic that it hurts. But it's my favorite time of year. I'll be savoring every moment that I can.

Song of the Day: Living Room Floor - Sammy Rae and the Friends