Montana on film, 2018.
I’ve never read Look Homeward, Angel, but as I sat to write about home in a house no bigger than a minute, these are the words that first came up.
Over the years I’ve learned to trust interruptions, to let instinct lead when I’m writing, something I’d fare well to do in life, too, if I could ever figure how to get TF out of my own way. So I started walking with that sixth sense, right down the Wikipedia plot line. The end of which reads: “…he has a destiny elsewhere…he cannot be boxed in by a small mountain town in North Carolina.”
That line hit home.
It’s been over a decade since I’ve lived at home, the place that grew me, stout and flushed and bursting at the seams to see the world, like a tomato that’s seen too much rain. Almost every day my mind wanders the streets of where I was raised. It comes as surely as the waves. My eyes trace the binding on the books of the local library like my fingers used to – slowly, touching each and every one. Sunday lunches with my grandmother – JoJo, we called her – reel through like an old film, each clip piecing together a life wrapped in love and margarine. I feel the concert of cicadas in summer, throbbing so deep they jar the very humidity loose. I see past happiness and promise, heartbreak and pain. It’s all here.
For the next ten days, I am, too. A ten minute walk from my mom, a ten minute drive from my dad. The decade lived away, so far and so close; all the things I’ve seen ten thousand times somehow now, new.
This week has been a reminder that while our desires don’t always come tidily wrapped, they’re gifts all the same. That interruptions, if we let them, can lead us places we didn’t intend to go, and that instinct, the home that lives within all of us, can bring us round again.
When we’re on our way, little signs are everywhere.