I suppose it happens every time I move. The lost feeling. The sense that I'm here, and I'm not. The notion that home is where the heart is is laughable, because we can't always have our home - our life neatly tied up in the same place, the same people, the same existence.
Perhaps in an attempt to realign myself, I like to get lost when I move. I let my GPS take me there, wherever I'm heading, and then I bravely turn it off on the way back, hopeful that my mind can retrace its steps. I test new roads, unfamiliar to me on routes I have learned. Some of them surprise me - rows of neat houses, white shutters, manicured lawns with no one in sight. And others are less tidy, littered with debris from the bushes, but children playing - more of them here. Why is that the case?
I came expecting to spend more time with Kevin. After six weeks apart I began to feel like we were no longer married. More like good friends who were looking forward to getting reacquainted. But his days and nights bleed into one long, continuous string. He is neither here nor there. Well I suppose, he is there, not here, but when he's home, during those rare, brief patches, I remember. We were married once. We still are. And I like it that way.
Claire has begun to feel less like the needy, restless baby I once had and more like a dear, quirky little friend. I schlep her to new places - school, the library, stores, the church. She grips my sweaty hand. She thanks me for absolutely everything. A cup of milk, a high-five, a "bless you" after she sneezes. I thought, the other day, how before I had her in my life I felt chronically misunderstood. But she reads me, she watches me. She takes care of me even, which is the sweetest surprise of my life. At each new age I think, "This is my favorite." I hope I say that until she's sixty-five. I hope each new age is my favorite, each discovery of hers such a gift.
I meet people. Kind people. They're everywhere until I need them, and then they are nowhere. I remind myself what it's like to make friends. They take time. And then I call an old one, to remind myself that I have people who love me somewhere in the world.
"It will start to feel like home," Kevin told me the other night. "I want you to write down how you feel right now about this place, because in four years when it's time to leave, you'll come back and read it, and you'll remember that you can build and rebuild again."
I suppose he's right. We are not perennials, left in the same place to resurface year after year, born new, whole and green. We are transient, moveable. Our bodies tied to one another, tied to survival, scattered across this world that feels at once minuscule and vast.
But the love? At times it hits me that it is the only perennial thing left. A miracle, budding in each new place, with the same people, some new ones too, resurfacing after a long winter.