A few days before I left on my adventure, a friend of mine handed me a special gift. A small turtle, made of a rich red stone. She sat with me on a bench by the water, and read to me the symbolism of the turtle. The Home. Taking our home with us. Moving slowly and intentionally. I got it, and I have carried her precious gift with me everywhere.
The day before I left, another friend gave me a beautiful bracelet. She showed me a very similar one on her wrist, and told me that she would wear hers till I came home. She put mine on my arm, and I saw that the clasp was made of a small silver turtle. Home, she told me. You are taking your home with you.
And I have been.
Once I mostly got the hang of this whole backpack thing (and I have a line or two to write about that), I started really loving the feeling of carrying all my things with me, on my back. I have loved knowing that right there on the Parisian subway, were all my belongings, for the next six months. I have felt surprisingly safe and cozy glancing at the soft green bag out of the corner of my eye, at the end of a sleeper train bunk bed (and I have more than a line or two to write about that night, too). For some reason, this backpack is taking on a meaning of its own for me, something which I have not fully simmered in my own mind yet, but which I know is significant.
And then, there has been this astonishing sense of Home, just about everywhere I have been. A psychological sense, but also a physical sense. As though my own little home, back on the island, was sending me sweet winks and reminding me that it is not that far, really.
First night on the way to the airport, I spent the night at a good friend’s. Right there over the air mattress where I slept, was one of my paintings. I fell asleep looking at it and reminding myself that this was a sign that the bit of anxiety I felt about leaving home was unfounded.
The next evening, I walked into my sister’s home in Florida and there was the very same painting, right over her couch! Much bigger this time as she had ordered a custom print a while back. All over the house, were reminders of our connection and once again, I felt the Essence of Home wrap me in its arms.
This feeling has continued, and I have been surprised by these Home Winks in so many places.
Our Italy Retreat villa had the same white paper lanterns as the ones that hang on my front porch. Right there on the shelf of an Airbnb on Omaha Beach were the books of my childhood. Colors, textures, actual prints ... everywhere I have been, I have seen Home.
This bit of fabric sticking out of a drawer next to a “strange bed” (I think it was Bed #9)? The exact pattern of one of my shirts, the one I hesitated to bring and finally decided to leave in my closet. NOT a very usual pattern, is it?
Of course, spending 24 hours in the home of my childhood friend Carol (you know that I have much to write about that), Home was everywhere. The Home of our early years, with photos, much laughter, and heart melting moments.
Arriving at another Home for the Night, wary after a long day of walking and trains, we enter a courtyard and are welcome by this simple and beautiful curly metal sign. Bonheur, it says before we even walk inside. Happiness. Yes, once again, I am home.
And of course, polka dots everywhere. And polka dots really say home, to me.
As I enter the fourth week of this journey far away from home, I am more and more filled with a sense of Home. It is everywhere and more importantly, it is in me. It is in us.
We are all home, because we are all humans. Different upbringings, languages, colors, smells, habits, we are all home and in many ways, we are all each other’s homes - or we can be.
It’s a beautiful thing.