teach me to be a turtle

If it’s true that home is where the heart is, then my heart is broken and scattered across the continent.

Pennsylvania came first, with the funnel cake, and strawberry fields, and fireflies, and wide-open spaces.
Then Chinatown in Manhattan, with the fish markets and bus fumes, tai chi in the park, graying men and women playing mah jong deep into the night, fish eyes and chicken feet.
And my house with the persistent smell of garlic, sitting on the roof, my brothers who love me so well and even now pick me flowers and send me valentines.
Then: the mornings by the ocean, the afternoons in the courtyard, the nights on the rock by the library, hours in the practice rooms.
England and Ireland and Scotland, where feeling came first and life was like a fairy tale, where strangers lived like family, wounding and forgiving each other.
And now this little white apartment with cranes and leaves and maps and frames and candles and handmade books and (now) blue and purple and pink and white flowers.

This is the way it goes: my heart tied by strings to all these places I have lived in and to all these people I have loved, each one tugging at me since I left, waiting for me to come back home. My life is one of discovery, redefining myself in new places, and again when I move on. Always I feel the absence of these places, begging me to remember what it is I have lost in myself.

Is it true that home is where you start from? that you can never get back, that home becomes just some shadowy nebulous past place of strange familiarity?

There is no rest in music until you reach the tonic again, until you find home. But even when you find it again, it’s never exactly the same.

Now I am exhausted by being known in this place—I have outgrown this school, I think—and I feel sixteen again. My only fear then was growing up too fast, but my longing for anonymity was far greater than my fear. So I left.

I am torn between wanting to go far, far away to a new place where my face fades into the crowd and wanting to stay here, with this sense of home, rooted, surrounded by these people I love in this place I love. But I am restless, with conversations that bounce back and forth between what awaits after May 8th and what has happened here these past four years.

I wish I were a turtle, slow-moving, semi-aquatic, perfectly happy on land and in sea. All I want is to carry my home and these friends of mine with me wherever I go, protecting me, growing with me.

I'm afraid I'll be homesick for the rest of my life.

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