Tuesday, March 15, 2005

When You Go There, They Have to Let You In

I haven't felt at home for years.

Since we moved to Ann Arbor, I've maintained this state of vigilence. It's a little bit imperminence, a little wariness, a little hate-of-place...I can't relax, I never have been able to, here.

It suddenly occured to me yesterday, that I used to relax when I was getting close to home. I grew up on a dark-dirt, rural road, where all of my friends were 45 minutes away and I stayed out until 3am. There was never a soul awake on the roads, and if I'd fallen asleep and crashed my car (as I came close to doing many, many times), I would have been on my own. I often counted the turns and the houses, thinking of how long it would take to walk home from there if I had an accident...there has never been cellphone coverage in them there mountains. The closer I got, the safer I felt.

Then, when we lived in Pittsburgh, I would experience a revelation each time I got myself safely back on the East Side of the city. As the Squirrel Hill Tunnels came into view, I would breath a sigh, my body would quietly calm, and my soul would smile. Coming home was so good, every time.

Here in the wilds of suck-ass Michigan, I've never felt safe. I don't feel relief when approaching my home, I don't feel calm. Instead, I feel a stiff numbness. Dry eyed and balled throat...I steel myself everyday to live here. We hardly leave the city, we barely have the confidence to venture out, even though we hate it so much. We used to travel from Pittsburgh all of the time (though, that was before the days of the 80 claws), seek out new places, wander the city with wide-eyed joy and confidence. We'd comment on architecture, mock the signage, steal daffodils, and chat up the neighbors. We had a sense of place and a sense of contentment.

Why do we hate it here? I honestly can't put my finger on it, and we have tried to adjust. I swear to you, we've tried to woo this damn pseudo-city. We've tried to develop a place for ourselves, to feel at home, but we never have. It's a quiet desperation, a quiet longing, so when I drive back to see the Pittsburgh skyline, I often have to pull over because of the tears in my eyes.

Now, I identify home with people.

There are people in my life who give me that sense of comfort, that deep sense of knowing and being known. People who make me feel like I'm coming home. No vigilence, no pretense, just a quiet calm.

~take off your shoes and relax into the deep cushion of my heart~