Home within

Artwork by Lonesome Daughter.

Feeling at home within myself. It’s not an easy task sometimes. Some days I would rather look inward with daggers rather than with quiet words and soothing thoughts. Some days I can’t summon the “speak to yourself as you would your good friend” strategy. Some days I wrestle and reckon with all of the stupid things I did, what I should do about them and if they even matter at all. There are days when I have to draw my own lines and mold my own moral compass as I go. And no one said it was easy.

But then I have days when nothing feels more cozy than curling up inside myself like an old blanket, my best pair of jeans. There are days when I am perfectly content being alone with myself, exploring my interests, ever and ever more inspired by all of the twists and turns to which my mind takes me. It’s these days when I ride on a wave of my own creation. I crest down and feel the ease that comes from knowing anything is within my grasp.

There are days when I travel to a foreign land on my own accord with little more than a passport in hand. I step off the plane and learn new streets. I make awkward attempts at friendship and get drunk on beers pronounced in unfamiliar names. These are the days when I feel invincible and like a ball of nothingness all at once. Humbled yet empowered by all of the bewildering and exciting options that lie in wait. And what do I do with it? Where does it lead me?

One day I find out. I look back through misty goggles and squint through the fog to a scent of a memory so tangible I can’t touch it. It just lies within. It made a home and sprouted long ago. From the blossoms, it’s impossible to see the roots. But I never doubt they’re there, otherwise, how would I be standing? It’s days like these when gratitude takes me by the hand and presses it gently to the window. It says, “Look, look what happened. You did some of that.”

And then, by the same breath, I peer over the edge from the worn routes in the carpets of my childhood home. I stare down at the steep, weary depths before me, completely inscrutable, defined by pregnant pauses and unknown dreams. I am unsure. I’ve been me for so long, but this? This is mortality. This is death. Where is this home within myself? Where will it go when my home will cease to be? Will it go at all?

In these moments, breath escapes in singular gasps. The only way out proves inward. I know the way, scurrying down deeper to reach it before the bad can find me. Through the futility and past the doubt. Doubts that screech in ugly voices; “you are so far behind”, “you are doing it all wrong”, “you aren’t living up to your standards”, “you aren’t living up to those of others”. It’s these moments when I search the floor on my hands and knees for the splayed ends of something that got wedged in the darkness after a long tumble. I find the edge and piece-by-piece braid the fibers back together. I braid them until they become the rope that pulls me out. I reach the surface and take a deep breath of sweet, sweet air. I am back. I am home.

I find my feet beneath me. I marvel at this flesh and body that I love to love and hate to hate. It’s not my temple. It’s not a slave shackled to my mind. It’s the breathing collection of millions upon millions of organisms, atoms and cells. It buzzes and vibrates like blades of grass synchronized by wind. It reminds me that I, too, am matter. I, too, am of the world. And within the world, I take shelter where I can find it. Within myself, within others, within stars overhead.

I look in awe, and I feel small. I wonder about the threads of luminescence that hold me in place like a web of tender yarn. Insignificance when I look up. Worth and strength when I look down. I try not to breathe. I try not to think. I try to simply be in this space where two forces meet and repel. I let the tension carry my weight. I hover lightly in the magnetism.

***

This post was a collaborative effort with the über talented Sandi Petrie, aka Lonesome Daughter. I’m so honored that Sandi took the time to create the custom artwork you see above to match my words. It makes it all come to life. Please go follow her and her awesome work. 

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