Home is…

Andrew.Draper-home.is

 

Winter has tightened its grip, choking out the last work days of the season, and I am officially unemployed.

I wrote before how Alabama had come to feel like Home for me. I was looking forward to going back when the season ended but that’s not going to happen.

Instead, I will drive almost 1,900 miles to Mobile not to return home but to retrieve what I left behind. Then I will turn around and come straight back North to wait out winter and put in a full season come spring.

The upside is that I will have some time to write in solitude and after more than a year of having my belongings strewn across three states I will finally have most of it in one place.

I, however, will remain divided for as long as it takes to find that place I call Home.

But what is “Home?”

For me, the answer is simple: Home is where I want to be and it’s where I’m wanted to be.

I try to picture myself in the places I prefer. The places I want to be. Deep in a forest. On the side of a mountain by a stream. In the desert. They are isolated places. Secluded. Desolate. Lonely.

They are places I’ve been before and in many ways they are the places I most belong, but there isn’t anyone in those places that wants me there and being there first makes it difficult for that to ever happen. I’ve tried. It didn’t work. Those places require a joint decision. To go there alone is to remain alone.

My thoughts sometimes turn to places I haven’t been. Uruguay. Patagonia. Corfu. Iceland. Knowing that these are impossible places for me to live, at least in this moment, somehow makes it easier to accept that it will not happen.

I can’t help revisiting the past when I think about home. The places I’ve been. The people I’ve been with. Other than my son, who is now grown and with a son of his own, I can’t think of one person who really wanted me to be there. Me. Not an image of me. Not my income. Not my pain. Not a warm body to share a bed. Me.

I do have friends in Mobile who want me there, but they are going through changes in their lives that put me in the way. So I should add that Home is also a place where I belong.

Right now I belong where I am. It’s where I need to be. Working in the oilfield is my best option to reach my goals. But it’s not where I want to be and other than my employer there isn’t anyone here who wants me here. I’ve sacrificed those aspects of home to fulfill obligations and needs and desires and hopes.

Home. Such a simple concept and yet always seeming to be just out of reach.

I’ll find it yet. Or maybe it will find me. Or maybe I’ll just wake up one day and be there.

Until then, this place, here, where I share my heart and my soul with any who will read, is my home, and my family spans the globe.

I’m good with that.

Welcome home.

 


 

Image by Andrew Draper.

Home

I left Mobile with a smile late in the afternoon yesterday after a last reshuffling of plans and unpacking/repacking of the car.

The original plan, based entirely on cautious habits acquired over the years, was to bring everything with me in case things didn’t work out.

I’ve gotten very good at eliminating all but the essentials. When I left ND to come here I left a fully furnished, down to silverware, toilet paper, and made bed house behind.

This time something had changed. I found myself wanting to load up everything and that wasn’t going to happen because it seems that when the wiring harness in my SUV melted down a few months ago it took out my trailer lights and I wasn’t about to risk another meltdown by attempting to repair them, which meant I couldn’t rent a U-Haul.

There was no way I was going to take everything with and that bothered me.

It wasn’t until a friend stopped by to send me off with a hug and a smoothie (Thank you, Professor!) and began pointing out things that I shouldn’t bother bringing with that it all began to make sense.

I was attempting to pack up something that is impossible to get into a box or a bag and I could spend the rest of my life trying to squeeze it into every available space I could find and never get it all in because its is larger than a $20 blanket or a rug I picked up from the curb:

Home.

I’ve spent so many years without a home that I forgot what it felt like. I even developed this inner philosophy that said wherever I go I’m always going home because the only sense of home I had for so long was the one I carried with me.

Over the last dozen years every time I’ve headed off to a job in the oilfield it eventually lead to another. Then another. And another. Until I ended up alone and isolated.

These things I’ve felt over the last week, the things that have kept me up at night, that frustrated and irritated, aren’t there because I feel alone.

I am not alone.

I have made strong friendships and have the support of people who love me as much as I love them.

The feeling isn’t that of being alone but of becoming alone, again, which is something that scares the crap out of me and keeps me up at night.

I had forgotten what it feels like to belong somewhere. I never would have guessed that place would be Mobile, Alabama and maybe it won’t be forever, but there it is, home.

So I unpacked everything and moved it all to the attic of the mansion I rent rooms in, much to the delight of the owners who were so honestly relieved and happy to know I would be coming back that they hurried to help me.

I left later in the day than I wanted but made it to Missouri around midnight.

When I looked in the back of my little Rodeo I saw that I brought so few things I had room to arrange a makeshift bed. I walked Brown Dog, the best traveling partner I could ever ask for, offered gratitude to the powers that be, shifted a few things to make enough room to stretch out in, then lay down and slept better than I have in days.