The rolling hills move from right to left in my window. I’d planned to make notable progress in my latest summer read on this trip. But hours had sidled by and Pillars of the Earth remained neatly packed in the bag at my feet. I was in a trance.
This was my first time home in half a year. My first time home in a new quarter-century. I was thrilled to be back and couldn’t wait for the sight of my parents lingering in the same steel chrome Greyhound bus station in Binghamton as they had many times in the past. Soon, Dad would bring my bags to the car and Mom would gauge how much food I’d be able to eat within the next few hours. But for now, I would continue to gaze out the window and re-familiarize with the shape and sequence of green hills.
It still escapes me how time bends in discreet ways at home. Mornings on the back porch in careful observation of my coffee’s steam swirling and dancing seem longer than usual. Marathon afternoons at the piano with messy sheet music mountains and muscle memory are void of time. I don’t notice until hours later that my body is exhausted from immaculate posture. That’s generally when lethargic evenings of popcorn and root beer floats on the couch come into play. These days both fill and drain me of energy.
The best part of home is Mom and Dad. Early morning walks, quilt lessons, day trips, afternoon teas, homemade dinners, swim sessions, pickle-ball on the tennis courts, ice cream outings, and country drives. I still expect Mom to wake me up after a night of peaceful sleep. I have fewer nightmares at home.
Home is teeming with nostalgic memories and smells. I visit St. Francis and our beloved pets no longer with us in the backyard. I meet a high school friend for our annual breakfast at Garf’s, the local deli. The lavender and shea soap in our upstairs shower smells the same as it did six months ago. I sit on the outside steps late at night and wave when the International Space Station passes overhead.
The worst part of home is leaving.