It’s inching closer to midnight on this last Friday at home and for a second, if I were to close my eyes, drown the voice that aches within, this could be just another Friday. But it isn’t.
My aircon slowly whirrs in the background, the dogs sleeping on their beds, just like they have for the last so many months. For a moment, if I could silence the thoughts in my head, I could pretend that this is just another evening. But it isn’t.
I’m acutely aware of how finite this Friday is.
Trying to stretch each moment, each simple second spent here, hoping to draw it out so I may, momentarily, forget that there is a timer.
As I write this, the fingers making contact with the keys, I can hear Maggie breathing softly behind me. Gently drifting in and out of sleep, unaware that this Friday might be the last we ever get to spend together. If only I could numb the pain that throbs rhythmically with the beating of my heart. But what good would that do? I could close my eyes, drift into sleep, pretending that this is just another Friday evening.
But it isn’t. I’ve left these walls before.
I have been leaving since I was too young to know this feeling. Leaving in all seasons, and manner of stages, and ways, through planes, cars and trains and yet this time, there is an ache to it. An ache that has been growing with every journey, every packed piece of luggage.
It’s not the ache of leaving behind the comforts, the convenience, the clothes, and objects of comfort.
It is perhaps almost easier to replace those things.
No. This feeling is different. It is reminiscent of pain.
The pain of leaving the love behind.
Of Family. Of Friends.
Of a furry friend, that once sat in my lap as a little pup while I played video games all those summers ago. There is something different about this pain though. It has a companion this time around.
There is a fatigue in this departure. I am tired.
Of leaving. Of living the life of a vagabond. Sometimes there, often here, but never in a place to call home.
The years spent living out of suitcases have lost their charm. I crave familiarity. My being wants permanence. I have never known home. Never known it to be anything more than a whisper. Home is as real as a silent prayer spoken in the waning hours of the night for want of comfort.
There is the family home. The place of my birth. Yet it doesn't feel like my own. It’s not my place, not a place where I feel like me. A part yes, but not the whole. A reminder. A memory box.
Distant echoes of the self in these rooms, brushing against these walls that I’ve breathed in since my earliest recollections. And yet, these walls, they feel alien. I feel like a stranger to myself at times, the comfort blinding me to growth. This is my short haul, not the long stay.
There was the fort. The barracks that many boys like me had called their home away from home and yet, there was something still so alien about that place. Home in some respects; the peers, the banter, the nights spent drinking coffee and coming of age. The joints in that tiny room. Growing from innocent young boys into what we thought were men. I am grateful for that time and yet it wasn’t home. I lost parts of me to it. Pieces broken, that took years and long therapy bills to put back together. For many, to this day, it remains the last place they truly felt like themselves. There are memories of it, a time once lived, that feel like home. But the dark of it stands in contrast, drowning the light and the world of good that it gave me.
There were the many homes in Dublin.
The college halls, the window overlooking the pond, the first step on my journey on the isle and the place that will forever remind me of a drunken Paddy’s Day.
A reminder of new beginnings. The conveniently placed flat next to college that overtime turned into a health risk on account of a negligent landlady and an uncontrollable mold infestation. Someday, perhaps, I may write horror stories about this flat but for now; its walls filled with memories of an aching heart. Of learning to outgrow all that I had come to know. A period of unparalleled growth, and dismantling of the self. The house over the grocery store, the first place that really filled me with possibility of what could be. A home built with two wonderful humans, an incredible set of kitchen knives, and a walk that will forever remind me of lavender, trams, and the beauty that Dublin can offer in its many pockets. Yet I was a stranger in these lands. Forever seen through the lens of the other.
Never one of them, and therefore never home.
There was Canada. The first place I remember where I felt accepted in all my weirdness by people who embraced my quirkiness with open arms. For a land covered in snow for much of the year, the warmth of its people is something that I’ve longed for since the day I left. It remains the only space where I've felt seen.
I have spent years on the move. Each year has a story to tell and yet there are existential questions that remain unanswered.
Who am I without a place to call home?
What does home look like?
What does it mean to be of somewhere?
Where do I belong if nowhere?
My passport tells the world I fit in a demographic and yet my own soil feels like a strange land. Far away lands that have silent hints of home see me as the other, a stranger in their midst.
Forgive my rumblings. I am tired. My mind wanders.
It’s a Friday evening spent pondering the end of this year and what lies ahead.
My thoughts keep me company, questioning the nature of my nationality, citizenship, and my sense of belonging. London could be home, the thought crosses my mind. As I look at my suitcases, my clothes spread across the room, the mess that is all but natural at this junction, I am filled with feelings.
Not sad or ecstatic.
Just feelings. Come Monday, I will pack my corner in this home and fly to a place that will serve as home till the next journey comes calling. There is uncertainty. A thousand questions racing again but there is something amidst them.
A hint of promise. I can feel it in the air. In this inexplicable sensation in my gut. There may be a hint of home in London. And yet, a part of me is aware that I must relinquish control on the matter and resign to the intangible threads of the now.
The now is fleeting. But that is all I have. Each new step, each morning offering the hope for a better tomorrow. Leaving here will be emotional. Hugging Maggie goodbye for what could very well be the last time will be heavy.
But I have no control over what may come to pass. The now is all I am guaranteed. This evening is all that I know right now, and I will take that certainty
There will be a home, a place to belong, someday. One Day.
Home is the gentle snoring of my furry child.