I left Australia in tears. Kane dropped me off at the bus station and no matter how much I told myself I wouldn’t cry, the tears still came. I boarded the bus that muggy evening in Katherine with puffy eyes and a sniffling, running nose. Not exactly the picture of having-it-together perfection.
You see, coming home is hard, especially when your idea of home has changed. Is my home the United States? Is my home Ventura, California, where I was born? Is my home Portland, Oregon, where I am currently living while finishing school? Was my home Australia?
Travel has changed my concept of coming home, because in leaving, in traveling, I found a plethora of new homes. My home was our ramshackle apartment in Xela, Guatemala, at least for a little while. My home was my backpack for a while, strange as that sounds.
I have found homes all around the world, from the beautiful colonial style home of my Argentine host family to the 1999 series Land Cruiser Troop Carrier that we toured the west coast of Australia in. Yet, now, more than ever I feel that I have left my home half way across the world, not because my home is a place, but because my home is a person.
I once heard love described as the feeling of coming home. We search and search and search, looking around every corner, under every rug, for that feeling. We wander across continents and oceans in search of the thing that makes us pause, the thing that makes us want to stay. I found my home when I met Kane that fateful night in Guatemala.
He makes me want to stay. And that’s why Portland does not feel like home, because he is not here. He will be, soon, and maybe then Portland will feel like home, but until then my home is far away and I am here, but not. My home and my heart are in Australia, but my body is in Portland. It is a strange feeling.
So, maybe, coming home is not hard. It is leaving your home, your person, which is hard. I am lucky that my home can get on a plane. Not all of us are so lucky.