It is altogether possible that I've spent more hours of my life in a daydream than in reality. While my body sat in a calculus classroom, my mind was in Narnia. Feet planted at the ballet barre, thoughts soaring through Andromeda. Eyes directed toward the lecturer, brain seeing the pyramids of Giza. I accepted my condition and blamed it on my hardwiring as a creative. Planting my life in Europe seemed a surefire cure to chronic wanderlust.
Instead, a strange reversal has occurred since I arrived in England. The daydreams of strolls along the Seine, Turkish coffee in Istanbul, and jaunts to Marrakech have stopped. New dreams have come.
Between my mom and dad, walking the well-worn three mile loop around our neighborhood. Mary Austin in the driver's seat always, laughing always. A Culver City sunset from the porch of a tiny blue bungalow. Strawberries and chocolate muffins poolside at Caroline's. Soybean fields and fireflies and a red front door. Alabama air unbearably heavy with heat and humidity and summertime. A father in the pulpit, a mother beside me in the pew. Biscuits and bacon and a standing weekly breakfast date with best friends. House bursting with family and hammock laden with cousins in small town Mississippi.
Home. Home. Home.
Lately my daydreams aren't actually dreams. They're memories. No longer do I pine for travel and adventure and romance. I pine for the quotidian. I fantasize about my own life, the life I left.
This isn't just homesickness. It's past-sickness. Life-sickness.
Here is the terrifying distinction between missing a home and missing a life: I can return to my home. Homes are made of bricks and mortar; homes have doors for coming in and going out. But lives are fluid and wild, built of time and people and change. I can't return to the life I knew. Even when I'm back on American soil, my old life won't be waiting for me.
Sometimes my chest just aches at that thought. My head bows and my hands hurt and my throat knots and I ask myself over and over: How do people do this? How do people grow up? How do they move on?