I untie the laces to my sneakers and cast them in the hallway of this house. I toss my scarf onto the table top and spin my passport along the sideboard to fall where it may. I am home. The dogs howl in unison and battle for attention, biting at eachother and pushing ahead in an effort to reach my lap. I am home. I have travelled across the land and the sea and the ice bergs beneath, beside Godthab and Greenland and Iceland. And I ate airline food and spoke to a woman who was travelling to Delhi, and from there had to board a train that took her on a ten hour journey to see her parents. I am home. I bask in its comfort. I make coffee in the Bialietti and admire the bunches of flowers that dot the house, especially placed there in celebration of my return.
I will not go into my son's room. I pass it hurriedly. I do not want to go there now. It still holds his scent and the bed where he slept and the towel that most possibly settles on the tile in the bathroom. I distract. I turn to matters of function. My emotions lie tucked inside, deep down into the bowels and caverns of my being. I hesitate to visit them. I know they will wait for me until I am ready to open them up and reveal what lies within.
Stove top is rich with food. Rice is steamed and a chicken casserole rests in an orange pot that is tainted with age. Something happened out in California that unsettles me and causes me to baulk at this life. One reason is that my son is there now, living in a place that, I know will fall softly onto him and ease him off into life. But the other reason jars. It rattles in my mind like a clanging bell in a storm. I cannot justify why I am not there too. Why is it, I ask myself, that when I was there in a place that I cannot be that it seemed so right. That the people I encountered filled me with a renewed belief in humanity, that oranges are sweet and that everything, everything is possible. Nothing gets in the way. Nothing.
I turn to my life here and I see a blank page that needs to be filled. My son is filling his, already the lines flow to me and I read a new voice. My voice wavers and hesitates and wonders what if. What if it had been different. What if I had stood in a doorway in California with a fresh orange nestled in my palms, my feet bare to sunlight on the stoop, my son walking out for the day only to return at sunset, a fresh light on his shoulders.
I am home.