When I was little, I knew my grandparents through letters and home-recorded cassette tapes. I used to dream of hugging them, of spending long days beside them, of just looking at them and listening to the sound of their voice.
And one day, a long time ago, we showed up from another continent, from across the ocean, and “by the time we were at the bottom of the hill and had parked beside the house, my grandmother, my grandfather, and Aunt Margaret were all outside, looking exactly the way they had in the calendar picture. I ran right into my grandmother’s arms as if I’d been doing this every day.
‘Welcome home! Oh, welcome home!’ my grandmother cried.
I hadn’t known it, but this was exactly what I’d wanted her to say. I needed to hear it said out loud. I was home.” -Jean Fritz, Homesick pg. 138
All those memories came flooding back to me, this month, when I set Aveline down on the airport floor and watched her run at top speed into my dad’s arms. She latched onto him, she threw her arms around his neck, she pressed her cheek to his shoulder, and I felt it again. I felt I was a girl with one foot here, one foot there. A girl to whom home was a many-splendored thing, altogether here and there.
And in between the here-ness and there-ness is a place that can’t be pinned, a place that can’t be caught or ordered around, a place that can’t be pushed into a map’s tight little squiggly lines. It’s a place I can’t visit whenever I want to, but only when the road we’re on lets us go there, and maybe that’s the beauty of it.
Grandma never stopped smiling and Grandpa buckled her into her very own seat in his truck, and we all piled in. Looking at this scene, I didn’t know if it was 1991 or 2013. I didn’t know if she was being buckled into the seat or if it was me. Here and there passed each other so closely they became one, the one thing that can’t be held down.
“I paid no attention to the road. I just kept looking out the window until all at once there on my right was a white picket fence and a meadow, fresh and green as if it had just this minute been created…the whole scene. The perfect greenness. The washed-clean look. The peacefulness. Oh, now! I thought. Now I was in America. Every last inch of me.” -Jean Fritz, Homesick pg. 133
Every last inch.