to tc : reflections on home / the return


By official accounts, I've been in France for over two weeks now, but time is doing strange things here. It feels like I've been here years and just a day, all at once. The day I landed, I came off the the plane at Charles de Gaulle and immediately rushed through customs, baggage claim, and onto the RER to run across town to catch a bus to Strasbourg.

It wasn't until I was standing on the RER platform, waiting for the next train, that I had a moment to breathe and begin to process the fact that I was standing on French soil again. It was so blessedly normal to be back. I expected to feel overwhelmed in some way–happiness, anxiety, something–after all, wasn't this all I've wanted since I left Paris? But it felt like any other day, just standing there waiting for the train as if the past year had never happened. What happened to Hamilton, to my senior year, to my New York summer, to you? Just like that, erased with a seven hour flight? Or just set aside until I go back to pick it back up where I left it, like I did with this life in Paris?

And the train pulled in and I was off, automatically going through the motions of transferring to the metro and navigating metro maps in my brain that I didn't realize were still there.

home, home, home, home, my heart murmured gently in time with the deep rattleclackroar of the metro. you're home again.

Home is always a concept that I've struggled with, because I've had many: Parsippany, Clinton, Paris, New York, Taipei–even far away Dushanbe, I would call home in some ways. And then there are people that are home: my parents, my brother, Julia, Candice, Amal, Jacob. And then there's home hidden in transient moments : a bowl of warm miso soup, hearing and only half-understanding Taiwanese, the hush of a snowy winter morning. There are homes that have been lost and then homes that yet are to be created.

but I'm always home, I wanted to say back, but that got swallowed whole in the steady mantra of home, home, home, pulsing through me until it was just meaningless sound.