At this very moment I’m sitting in a hotel in Portland, Oregon. I arrived early this morning, having taken the red eye out the night before, and by all accounts I ought to be exhausted, I ought to be passed out on my pillow. And yet the act of turning out the lights, of snuggling under the covers on a cold December night, my first truly cold night in nearly a year, made me feel a severe pang of homesickness.
Homesick? For what? The bed that isn’t mine, that came with the apartment that isn’t mine, on an island that isn’t mine in a life that surely isn’t mine because I just fell into it?
Do I miss my current apartment in Waikiki, two roommates that never do dishes, overpriced rent and lack of sunlight? Do I miss my previous apartment in Makiki, with my adoptive Chinese parents, Hello Kitty blanket on loan? Surely not my aunt’s house, terrorized by a stranger-relative one inch away from madness. Maybe I miss my aunt’s hosue as it had been before, when I’d come on vacation, the idealized memories of it.
Miss my apartment in Cincinnati, my ghetto apartment where everyone feared to visit, but mine alone and unshared, and the tall ceilings with tall windows that let all the cold in and heat out. Or the one before that, up the hill, and in the winter when the leaves fell you could see the river with the steam rising from it and the snowy banks and the stillness. Before that was Hell, living with my mother in the same town I’d spent half my life trying to get back to only to discover that returning wouldn’t solve anything. And everything before that, what do I miss? Everything and nothing.
I miss the winter, have missed the winter for months, and yet here in Portland it’s 40 degrees and all I can do is complain about how cold I am. And sharing a hotel room with my mother, both of us here for the weekend, our only chance at Christmas together, already a day in and she’s driving me mad.
And laying in bed, lights out, eyes wide open and seeing nothing except the gentle strobe of the light on my laptop, the only comfort of home, of a home that isn’t Home, because I’m Homeless, have been Homeless for a long time, because Home is Where The Heart Is and I always seem to leave mine behind, in the previous place, in the past, and even if you find yourself back in that place again, you’ll never return to the past. Because somehow the past, despite everything that went wrong, despite the Hell of the past, somehow it still seems like happier times.
If I keep running, if I keep leaving pieces of myself everywhere, will there even be anything of me left?