I'm homesick for a place that no longer exists

“A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past and the departed”

I used to sit out on the front porch roof, right outside my bedroom window, and patiently wait on edge for a shooting star. The silence at 2 am was thrilling. The magic that took over when that tiny streak of light finally made its way across the sky, so sudden it was easy to miss, but so entrancing it caught your eye, would stay with me forever.

I used to wake up so early, especially on summer days. The backyard was enough of an escape for a five-year-old, with the sun barely awake, wet grass under my bare feet, and the sweet scent of summer stuck to my skin as I lost time with fairies and far away kingdoms that existed in the honeysuckle bushes.

On Friday nights when we were little, my brothers and I would get in our sleeping bags and sleep on the pullout couch for movie night. Our mama would order pizza, and we would struggle to stay awake through the entire movie. Friday nights were for Homeward Bound, The Worst Witch, The Chipmunk Adventure, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, Free Willy, and Drop Dead Fred. I remember hiding my face in my sleeping bag so my brothers wouldn’t tease me for crying during the part in Benji when the dog gets kicked. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, the familiar sight of our living room slowly coming to me, and the feel of warm bodies surrounding me.

Even in the dark I could see the pictures in the frames that sat on top of the entertainment center. Even now I can see them, as if they still existed. As if that living room still existed, just inside the screen door with the broken handle, and the ugly green front door that you had to slam to get it to close right.

The stairs were on your right. Those stairs. The ones we used to slide down on cardboard boxes and I broke my butt bone when I was 7. The banister that my mama would put Christmas cards on was the same banister my brother would get his head stuck in so often we would just keep walking by him until his pleas got annoying. The stairs we would huddle on, watching and listening as our parents fought in the middle of the night.

Our older brother would lead us back to his room, the one at the end of the hall, farthest away from the chaos that became a regular 3 am occurrence. He would scare the shit out of us with ghost and murder stories, and then suddenly the sound of our family falling apart downstairs in the kitchen wasn’t that big a deal.

When the kitchen wasn’t a battleground, it was the heart of our house. Pancakes, board games, homework, birthday cakes, multiplication tables, heart to hearts, card games, chicken noodle soup – our kitchen table witnessed it all. That kitchen, with its yellow walls, cracks in the ceiling, and broken tiles on the floor, was the one room in our house where everyone gathered to eat, talk, and laugh. I remember having a friend stay for supper once, and when she was leaving she asked me, “Is that how it always is when your family eats?”

“What do you mean?”

“People just show up, and then everyone sits around and talks after you eat?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“Your family is awesome. I love it here.”

I loved it there, too. The good, the bad, the ugly, the anger, the fighting, the abuse, the comfort, the laughter, the noises, the chaos, the smells. My mama moved into that house when she was ten. She lived there until she was fifty-eight. My brothers and I grew up in that same house that sat smack in the middle of our street, where we were surrounded with neighbors that were more like family. My mama’s childhood bedroom became mine, the first one on the left when you came up the stairs.

I had one window in that room, the room that held my heart and soul all over its walls and my dressers. That window was my escape. It let out my loud, angry music I blared when my insides were just as loud and angry, letting the entire street know as well. That window gave me a view of the sky and the stars and the daydreams that happened in the night because I could never sleep. That window led to the porch roof, where the jump wasn’t very far, making it too easy to sneak out. In high school, my best friend would throw pine cones at that window to wake me up.

When we got too old to huddle in bunk beds and tell ghost stories to forget about the screaming downstairs, that window allowed me a place on the porch roof, where the silence of the night drowned out the timeless blackhole that was my parents’ marriage. As constant as those fights were, so were the stars in the sky to make endless wishes that never came true.

You used to tell me to wish on shooting stars, but that if I ever saw a falling star, to picture my future. I must not have done it right, because nothing happened the way you said it would when I made stupid wishes on dying stars. You’re gone. You left six months after dad did, and I will never understand how you could be so lost after you were finally free from the person that only brought you suffering.

But then you left, too, and all the suffering was left for us. I never stepped foot in your room again, the room where I ran to with bad dreams, sore throats, and tummy aches. I should have, though, because I never got the chance to again. That house is no longer ours, and I haven’t had a home in nine years. Strangers live in that house, laugh in that house, yell and scream, sleep, eat and love in that house now.

And as long as you’re gone and I keep fucking up my wishes on the stars that fall from the sky, I will never have a home again.


Cover Image Credit: Kerri Caldwell

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You Will Always Need Your Grandma

They Are Some Of The Greatest Human Beings You Will Ever Know

Always is no exaggeration, you'll always need your grandma.

"A grandmother is a remarkable woman. She's a wonderful combination of warmth and kindness, laughter and love. She overlooks our faults, encourages our dreams, and praises our every success."- Author Unknown

They Are Your Biggest Fans:

Maybe even beating out your parents for that title...grandmas are truly your number one fans. From tennis matches, to softball and volleyball games, to the countless dance recitals and competitions, it always made my heart smile to look out from the stage or the court and see my grandma sitting there. She didn't have to be there sitting on uncomfortable bleachers, she wanted to be, and it always meant the world to me; even if I didn't express it at the time.

They Are The Greatest Porch Swing Companions:

One of my favorite and greatest memories of growing up is sitting on the front porch swing with my grandma. From the time when my feet didn't quite touch the ground sitting in the swing and hers did, to my feet touching the ground and her legs getting just a little bit shorter. All of the years in between provided some of the best advice, and were some of the many moments I wish that I could have recorded. There were less hours on the swing as I got older and busier, but I always know exactly where to go if I ever need to. Moving away for college, I realize just how much I miss being eight or nine sitting on the front porch swinging and talking for hours.

The Wisdom:

Only one of the many many things they have to offer you. They are full of so many stories, life lessons, and possible answers to your problems. You learn to appreciate the wisdom more and more as you get older. You realize that just as you are getting older, they are too. I recently bought a journal called My Grandma In Her Own Words. Inside the pages are questions to ask your grandma such as, "What is your earliest childhood memory?" I can't wait to spend the whole summer filling it.

Are They Not The Cutest:

I say this at least twice a week...she is the cutest human being alive. Their style, to the fabulous music they listen to, to everything in between. My grandma walked at least 16 miles in Washington D.C. in loafers and the cutest vest/scarf combo I've ever seen... that woman, let me tell ya. On a serious note, whenever I'm told I look a little bit like my grandma, I LOVE it. I take pride in the fact that someone sees a little bit of her in me, because she is gorgeous.

You Have No Idea How To Live Without Them:

Quite simply, they are one of the most influential women in your life. From being little, to being a newly minted adult, I still call my grandma almost everyday; sometimes just to hear her voice. They are some of the greatest human beings you will ever know. They make you a better person, all while showing you an unconditional love that only they can.

All the love in the world for you, sweet woman.

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An Open Letter To My "Team"

A week I'll never forget.

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity of going on a Service and Justice Experience spring break trip to Marion County, South Carolina. Since returning, I've been trying to pinpoint what I've learned, trying to find a particular moment or teaching that resonated with me, but I've found that I can't. There are no words to describe all that happened last week, so instead I've chosen to write this article as an ode to all that I encountered and felt in my seven days in Marion County.

It's been less than a week since we journeyed back to campus and I'm missing Marion already.

Whenever I see one of the people I traveled with around campus, I can't help but light up and smile, and I think it's because something magical happened last week. It had to be the combination of the beautiful community we were exposed to in Marion, the service with Habitat for Humanity, we were able to do, and of course, the people we served alongside with.

When people ask me how my trip was, the first word that comes to mind is "fun", but I don't think that word really does the trip, or everyone there, any justice.

Yes, the trip was fun, but it was also thought provoking, full of fits of laughter and moments of determination and hard work, and so much more.

Team, thank you to every single one of you for making the trip what it was. In one of the notecards that someone wrote for me, they commented on how the trip would not have been the same without me being there. As cliché as it sounds, I believe this to be true- we all come from different backgrounds with our own idiosyncrasies and character traits.

I truly feel that if even one person had been missing, the group dynamic, and thus experience as a whole, would have shifted.

I think what really stood out to me was the amount of love that surrounded all of us in everything we did. When Morgan asked us during reflection one night, Where did you see love today? I found myself with countless examples, from the patience of master nailers with us newbies, to the countless times a friend braided my hair for me, to a simple check in of "how are you doing" at any given moment.

Love and the sense of community were at the forefront of everything we did last week, especially when working on the house or connecting with the people in Marion.

Thank you all for helping solidify my belief that every action in life can be traced back to love.

I felt the love everywhere we went and through everything we did. However, what I found even more beautiful was how, when taking a step back, I was able to observe the love around me. As I spoke about during reflection one night, there was a moment where I was lying on the grass, separate from everyone else, watching you all play Frisbee.

While this situation may sounds trivial and mundane, I think the impact this moment had on me speaks to the gratitude this trip formed in me for the little moments.

It was the way that you all were interacting with each other. Closing my eyes, I heard nothing but laughter and cheering and words of encouragement. All you were doing was throwing around a Frisbee, yet I could find so much of God's love in that moment.

You all have a special place in my heart, and I only hope we continue to grow as a team.

Here's to morning devotionals, Max's daily lessons and coordinated Coke commercials. Here's to 6:15 wake up songs (Final Countdown anyone?), 12 am What Do You Meme? games (because pizza, of course) and the sardine round that took half a century. Here's to surprise birthday cake(s), handprints on walls, walls being painted and walls being raised. Most of all, here's to ridiculous stories, laughter, moments of reflection, vulnerability, and tears, and everything in between.

Thank you all for bringing your whole self to this trip, for sharing, and as a result, for teaching me a great deal about what it means to live in community and to build not only a home, but a second family.

Here's to you, here's to us, team.

Good deal,


Cover Image Credit: Samantha DeCarlo

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