Last night I dreamed that I was at the airport, preparing to board. I woke up, terrified, remnants of the fear I felt in the dream lingering. Even in my sleep, I knew I wasn’t ready to leave. I don’t think I’ll be ready in seven days either, when I really will be boarding the plane. Not ready now, and not next week. The thing is, I doubt I’ll ever be ready to say goodbye to home – to the place that shaped me, to the place I belong.
I stayed in bed for a while, waiting for my heartbeat to slow, waiting for the panic to leave my fingertips. I lay on my side and stared at the cracks of light between the window blinds, shut against the 8am sun. I rubbed the linen bed sheets between my fingers, felt the texture of the pillow beneath my cheek. I sat up in bed and looked around, trying to pay attention to every object in the room. I traced the set of drawers across from the bed, then traced the mirror nailed above it, and then the canvases above that – two paintings of marigolds, dark blues and whites. I saw an empty glass, Love, Stargirl, my sister’s stickers on the floor.
I got up and went to the restroom. On the way, I passed by my parents’ bedroom and heard my dad getting ready for work – closet door sliding, dress shirts rustling, keyboard click-clacking. I heard my sister’s voice too from the bedroom, greeting my dad good morning. My mom was washing dishes downstairs, my brother tossed in his sleep. Little details – things about home that I’d never bothered to pay attention to before. Yet it’s the smallest details, the ones you’ve forgotten to notice, that make home special and so distinct.
I washed my face in the restroom, looked in the mirror. Alone, I suddenly felt very sad. One more week and I won’t be waking up to this place anymore, I thought, staring back at myself. In a week, (A WEEK!) the place I wake up to will be very, very different. In a week, I will no longer be in the house I grew up in. I’ll be in a one room apartment, with cotton curtains instead of blinds, blank walls. I’ll be standing in the middle of an under-furnished room, wondering where to hang my clothes, where to store my suitcase.
It’ll be hard, I know. It’ll be really hard not waking up to home anymore.
But I also know that, even in Japan, home will never be far away. Because I will always have memories to hold onto – the little details. Like the smell of my mom’s chicken broth bubbling in the slow cooker, the sound of my little sister’s soft “hello’s.” These are memories that I can continue to carry in my mind, in my heart.
Even after I’ve left, I’ll still have these little pieces of home to take along with me, to remind me that even on the other side of the planet, I am not alone.