“It feels like home,” the stranger offered, handing me a card…
I came to Germany in May, 2014, to spend a short week with my long-time best friend and recent boyfriend, Christian. Not long after I arrived, he said for the first time of many, “You know I can’t let you go back.” Toward the end of the week I finally answered, in place of glib like sentiment, “If we’re serious about this, we need to figure out how to make it happen.”
Where is home?
I married for the first time at twenty-two. I moved from the small Kansas town where I had grown up to another small town a few hours north. In eight years it never became “home”, nor did the house in which I lived.
Home during those years was south, in the childhood home of a close friend, where she lived with her parents and son. It was an idyllic spread nestled among yucca-covered hills, where a long-legged wolfhound strode gracefully around chickens in the yard. In the evening the whole family gathered in the kitchen while dinners were prepared at leisure. Besides samples of micro-brews and chopped vegetables, what was shared was openness, understanding, and connection.
Homes present and past
I didn’t fly back to the U.S. at the end of that week with Christian. We owe much to help from my family. They never had to ask why. My dad said something about believing in love. But old friends, acquaintances, people I hadn’t heard from in years, eventually dropped notes of interest and concern. “Is it everything you hoped?” “Don’t forget where you come from.”
Christian and I were at the local post office mailing my rent check when we met an American man. With the words shared at the outset he invited me to visit his English-speaking church congregation. He was kind, but wrong in his assumptions. I felt right at home.
Two haibun this week will explore the idea of home.
A version of “Bunkhouse” was originally published in Contemporary Haibun Online vol 6 no 4.
No one answers the door of the small stuccoed house deep in the rurals. It’s hard to say if anyone lives here. There, on the windowsill, is a bird’s nest; behind that, a shelf of books, a woven green bedspread tucked tight beneath a mattress…
The crooked plank steps of my grandparents’ bunkhouse were icy even on summer mornings. The memory of Grannie’s chokecherry syrup is stilll so distinct.
She and Grandpa sang harmony on the main cabin’s front-porch swing. I remember one night when Grandpa played guitar he said the full moon was in trouble for showing up late over the mountains.
And once I woke up in Dad’s arms, in darkness. He seemed to carry me forever. I was scared. We’d heard wolves howling in the hills. Safe above the earth — above Grandpa’s shop — cold sheets became warm from our bodies.
It’s been ten years since they sold the ranch. I went back to see it a couple years ago, but it’s not the same. My sister says Grandpa’s almost completely lost his hearing.
Turning from the stranger’s place, sleet glitters down through sunrays onto a withered pasture…
a fallen leaf
blows the peeling shed
into storm clouds