Blizzard road. Red lights paving the way. Pretending to be asleep when we park outside the house. Papa carries my limp body to bed. He smells like cigarettes, pine and honey.
He tucks me in and kisses my forehead. Later I hear him and Mama talk in the kitchen. The crack of a bottle. Red, blue and green lights flicker in the living room while songs of chestnuts and reindeer play loud enough to make out some of the words.
Family parties full of noise and energy. The buzz of anticipation and infinite play. Bacalhau, baked potatoes, the smell of garlic and wine.
Fifty different conversations happening all at once, a low hum you want to live inside forever. Those days are gone. But I remember them like they still live on separately.
I can’t see them anymore, but I know they’re there.
At dusk, when the neighbors’ lights turn on, you can hear football in the living room and smell dinner on the table. They’re laughing about something you’ll never know, but it feels like you’re there. I take comfort in walking past the intimate moments of someone else’s life. It’s like I’m home even when I couldn’t be farther from it. Whether I’m here or not, home never dies. It’s in the sounds and warm hues of the apartments come to life on a Monday night.
Isn’t it beautiful how comfortable we can be with the unfamiliar? Strangers don’t feel strange when you see them in their homes. You can picture yourself there, watching the game. Serving a glass. Warm.
How many times have people walked past our apartment and felt at home there? What would they see? Our bodies dancing wildly under Christmas lights, our laughter, our cries, our conversations which wouldn’t make sense out of context — but what might they sound like to a stranger? Hues of green within a concrete hug in the spring, brick memories of molasses in the summer. I wonder if our essence follows them.
If there is a sixth sense and we can feel it sometimes, I think it’s when we feel connection with what’s unfamiliar. That would explain why we can adapt so quickly. Why two lonely islands can be brothers once they’ve met. Home follows. It doesn’t choose. It runs through time with you.
I think that’s why I love stories about time travel. Shows like Outlander fascinate me because characters find themselves hundreds of years in the past and manage to adapt because the fundamentals of connection don’t change. If we each have incarnated as energy or souls time and time again, it would explain why it’s the most natural things that make me feel the most. Flame, flower, fog. Books, beer, bumble bee. Music, mother, magic. I could find beauty in any time after a while. In the unfamiliar, which eventually becomes home.
Right now I see the flicker of my mystic rose candle, my stone goddess and buddha head. I see the tree that greeted me when we moved here and the cinnamon roof of the neighbor’s house across the street. I wonder how many times they’ve seen us naked. How many times they’ve seen us in general. I’ve only seen them a few times behind the blinds. The sky is a muted blue, somber as a blanket. The grass is never quite green enough, always a light dusting of death to remind us of the fires. But it’s home now.