Saturday started out a good day. I didn’t have work, I didn’t waste the day sleeping, I didn’t have to make breakfast (someone made it for me), and I actually cleared out some of the emails that have been languishing in my inbox for ages (“achievement unlocked!”). I managed to get to a dress rehearsal on time and didn’t complain about how long it was (three hours!). I got to hear Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity played live by a full orchestra and I fell in love with the music all over again. I shipped off a box of coffee to a friend (I hope she’s a friend, at least!) who writes great 1×2 fanfiction. I picked up a couple of (expensive! ugh) choral music folders so that my sister and I can stop borrowing from the school for every concert.
There was a moment while I was driving yesterday afternoon on Colorado in Pasadena and I had to stop for a red light. No big deal; I’m not in a hurry, I like people watching, and heaven knows that Saturday afternoon in Old Town is exactly the right time to be people watching. I just happen to be at a light that has a catty corner crosswalk—the type of crosswalk that allows pedestrians to walk diagonally across the street as well as at right angles. So the rhythm of the street light at that corner is: drive forward, stop and wait for cars to cross, all cars stop and wait for people to walk. I sat there in the midst of… so much life… watching people use the diagonal crosswalk and just felt… happy. It’s silly, I guess, but I really love the streets, being able to mingle with people even without knowing them, sharing lives for just a split second while waiting for a chance to cross. It reminded me of New York City and I thought to myself, “Maybe I’m starting to like this city the way I love
d New York.”
I went home and had a good evening with my parents. We had soup for dinner and I baked banana bread with pecans for a family friend’s birthday (“See?” my mother said when she tasted it, “you are a cook!”—“Well, I can bake,” I said, “but I’m not really exactly a cook.”). We watched an episode of Keeping Up Appearances and then sat in amiable silence working on separate projects for maybe two or three hours.
After my parents went to bed, I finished up editing some accepted submissions for the June issue of Hippocampus. I started answering neglected emails and as the next couple of hours progressed, I’ve become more and more homesick. (I don’t think it’s helped that I’ve been listening to “Black Balloon” and “Iris” on repeat, either, since those tracks are especially nostalgic for me.) I think it started after I watched a great performance of the poem “The last love letter from an Entomologist…” though I wasn’t really thinking about it seriously until I realized that I was homesick.
I was confused at first; how can I be homesick? I already am home. Literally: I’m sitting here in the house where I grew up. I have my own room, the room that I painted dark blue (my mother refused to let me paint it black) with red trim during the summer between my junior and senior years in high school. I have shelves and shelves of books, my own bed, and a desk. I eat the food from the fridge and am happy to see my family when they get home (and when I get home). I don’t hate my job, and I even like my coworkers. I can’t be homesick; I’m already home.
But then I realized that stupid idiom is true: home is where the heart is. (Curse you, Pliny the Elder, for… for just knowing things in the first damn century CE!) I like it here, and I love my family, but it’s not where my heart truly is. My first thought was to Yager, one of my waterbrothers, whom I haven’t seen in more than a year and then only for less than a week and then I had to screw everything up like I always do when I love someone and that person has a significant other who doesn’t understand.
And then I thought of New York City, the mistress who damned me and left me to die. I thought of the catty corner crosswalk I saw last afternoon and realized I liked it because it was a tiny bit of New York, not because I was finally beginning to like the city in which I was already living. It had reminded me of New York, after all, why I hadn’t I seen it before?
I thought of another waterbrother, here where I live now, and I thought of picking up the phone—even at this late hour—and calling him and telling him I was heartsick. I know he’d come. He always does, when I need him. But I talked myself out it; I just hurt him when I need him like that, especially since I’m never able to return the gesture when he needs me in his own way. It’s amazing: a waterbrother who doesn’t understand his own position because I, sworn to him a tovarish forever, have failed at explaining it or making him feel it or communicating it properly in some way.
My heart is lost in a place where it can feel no heat. It hurts. If I am home and yet feel homesick, where does my heart really lie?
swallow the light from the sun