Home is a Disparate Collage

Published by Anne 4 months ago on Fri, Feb 25, 2022 1:57 PM

It’s interesting how home can be in two places at once. 

Home is my family; my people. It’s where I talk to my dad about umbrellas, and make up words with my brother, and read biographies with my mom and end up crying while we pray afterwards. It’s where I play on the swings with my Sunday school kids, have long discussions in my Guardians leadership group, and laugh at myself with my piano teacher. 

Home is all the traditions that make up normality. We should buy plastic containers of hot colada morada in November, and play the Coro Vozandes version of Chulla Quiteña while we decorate for Christmas. We’re supposed to risk hypothermia on the fields at school to play water games during Carnaval. And we should sit down together for breakfast at six thirty on the dot and sing Demos Gracias when I request it before we eat.* 

Yet home is getting to try something new every day. It’s learning about how Valentine’s Day traditions are different in the US. It’s making Ecuadorian food that I’ve never made before, so that I can show it to my adopted family at church. It’s a random decision to rearrange my bedroom when I get restless. And it’s singing Behold Our God in church, and becoming comfortable enough to slip into Spanish on the chorus. 

But it’s also walking up to Eleanor at the deli in Janzow cafeteria, and watching her put together my sandwich before I have to say a single word. It’s approaching the line to ask for almond milk, and feeling seen every time when Ginger says, I’ll get your milk, and what else? 

Home is the wholesome smell of camomile soap, and the chill of red tile floors. It’s the unpolished fragrance of Lactibón* body wash that my mom brought from home for me, because its scent is like watching anime on my green couch in the afternoon.  

But home is the dusty smell of the costume shop when I unlock the door; the windy breath of the stairwell in David; the soft, peaceful embrace of Seward Memorial library. 

Home is texting my endocrinologist at 6 in the morning and hearing an answer, and tossing dosage ideas off my mom even though she doesn’t have a solution. And yet home is also the autonomy that frees me from the stress of control, because here, having good glucose is a means to an end, not an end in itself. 

Home is the feeling of flight on my rollerblades at Parque Metropolitano* with my dad, or it’s lamenting dramatically together that it’s raining and we have to stay home. And home is rollerblading down Plum Creek trail, then lumbering with one skate to catch a bag that blows away in the Nebraska wind, and laughing at myself afterwards because a good soul helped me in my embarrassing moment. 

My guess is that it’s a college thing, how home merges into a discordant collage of two places. Honestly, it’s not easy. It’s uncomfortable and uprooting and sometimes it gets under my skin. But it’s always, always beautiful, because I believe that there is perpetual beauty in growth and expansion. And every single day — no matter whether it feels like flying or it feels like aching — it’s worth it. 

 

Translations/Explanations: 

*Colada morada: a hot fruit drink made of mora (a berry like blackberry) and other fruits. Traditional for Day of the Dead. 

Coro Vozandes: “Voice of the Andes Choir”, a choir set up by the HCJB radio station. 

Chulla Quiteña: A song, meaning “Bachelor of Quito”, played on December 6th, when the city of Quito was founded. December 6th is a huge holiday in Quito. 

Carnaval: The holiday before Ash Wednesday. Traditionally, you get rid of all of your sinful urges before repenting on Ash Wednesday. Practically, this looks like throwing water balloons, flour, eggs, and stringy foam on random people on the street, or playing water games at school.  

Demos Gracias: “Giving Thanks”, a song we sometimes sing in place of the prayer before the meal in my family. 

*Pan de yuca: a bread made out of yuca root. 

*Lactibón: a brand of low-ph soap replacement. 

*Parque Metropolitano: “Metropolitan Park”