Home, At Last

The act of reclining
on the swinging two-seater couch
on the front porch,
with my legs propped up
on two arm pillows
and a cigarette dangling
between my fingers,
was revolutionary.

I did not care
what my neighbors thought
seeing me outside,
or how I looked
to the Sunday drivers
barreling down my street,
barely slowing down
for the speed humps
that I signed a petition
to get installed
precisely for them—
Newcomers and shortcutters
invading my space.

All that mattered
was that for the first time
in 24 and a half years,
I was finally at home,
relaxing on my front porch.

Taking a drag and exhaling my smoke
at the prospect
of burning my mortgage
in just 5 and a half more years.

All that’s left to do
is to exorcise the ghosts
of all the uninvited guests
whose belongings stayed behind
long after the guests wore out their welcome:

Clothes, toys, beer cans, and liquor bottles
magically disappeared,
thanks to a professional junk remover.

All that’s left to be rid of
is the stuff I’ve accumulated
while dealing with everyone else’s lives:
Receipts for bills long paid,
performance reviews for jobs I’ve left behind,
class notes and grades for a degree
I never benefited from,
scraps of poems and essays,
paintings and drawings
never completed.

But I cannot let go
of the books I’ve read
or the LPs, 45s, cassettes, and CDs
I’ve amassed,
nor the poems and essays I’ve completed—
some published;
nor the newspaper articles
chronicling the idols who molded my worldview,
or the historical benchmarks
of my lifetime.

They are the mileposts of my life—
the link to my past.
Even as I create a new mantra:

Keep moving forward
And don’t look back.

 

Author’s Note

I have spent the past month reclaiming my house as my home, after a 17-year stint as a parental caregiver. I spent, at minimum, 4 hours each day (and at maximum, 10 hours) at my parents’ home, giving them whatever support they needed: transportation, help with chores, occasional cooking, and even cleaning up after them. In return, they supported me: giving me company, advice, good conversation, and free meals! My own home became just a receptacle for all the stuff of my life, piled into corners. I slept there, but I didn’t really live there.

After a tough 2½ months adjusting to my mother’s death, I am suddenly a “free” woman. I am home, at last.

 


6 thoughts on “Home, At Last

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