“A home filled with nothing but yourself…”

“… It’s heavy, that lightness. It’s crushing, that emptiness.” (Margaret Atwood)

I have started that funny process of adaptation. I can feel it; the moldable material of my person is being tossed on the cobbled streets of Antigua, poked curiously by the wandering hands of children. Guatemala prods me to fit her lifestyle and I gradually succumb to her insistence.

I’m nowhere near done, of course. I’ve hardly even started! But I’m getting somewhere. Today I was halfway through an explanation of how to get to where I live by car and then exit the city, and as the words left me they were replaced by a satisfied feeling– I know what I’m doing, a little bit. I know how to get around. I know how to get my laundry done, find a quick, cheap meal, entertain myself on a Sunday afternoon. My Spanish might not be coming along as I had hoped, but it’s quite enough nonetheless. The cautiousness of being in a new place has faded. I am comfortable, and I am happy.

“Do you miss home?” someone asks me, an honest attempt at conversation that I welcome, even though I hate the question.

“Not really,” I smile, shrug a little, look down a little awkwardly, and take a sip of my drink, swallowing my guilt along with it. That’s my answer, but it’s not even true.¬†They say home is where the heart is, and you know, I wholeheartedly (ha!! pun intended) agree. My heart lies, as it always has, in the left side of my chest. (If you would like to see an image, search “cardiovascular system” on Google.) Home isn’t a specific place, even if there are people (people move), or things (you can buy things), or memories (you take those with you). A place is home when I am there and I am comfortable and I am happy. As I adapt, this place becomes my home, but in a few months, home will mean something else.

That’s why “no” isn’t the right answer to whether or not I miss home. It doesn’t address the problem inherent in the question. I can hardly miss something if it’s always right here with me, you know?

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