I don’t know how to get home. I’m not sure I’ve ever been there.
I’m not from this place. Not really. Yes, I was born here. On this planet, in this state, not far from where I sit. But I look around and know with certainty these are not my people. I don’t really understand them and they don’t understand me. We might as well be from different planets.
I’ve been looking for home since I was a small child. We didn’t stay any place for very long. From the beginning, it was a painful blur.
Birmingham, Washington, Atlanta, Knoxville, Meridian, Anniston, Oak Grove, Pensacola, Jasper.
It was a long line of new places, new people, new situations. I had a mother, then I didn’t. I had stability, then I didn’t. I craved love and attention and approval, but being perfect was the only way I knew to pursue them. And I wasn’t perfect.
I’ve longed for something all my life. I didn’t know what to call it. I’ve longed to find my home.
Every now and then, I still think of a song that a woman wrote 10 years ago which she said was inspired by her feelings about me. I’ve had it on my mind today, because it’s about the idea of home.
She was half of a duo which had been professionally singing in her area for years. She wrote and recorded this song as a simple demo. I have no idea whether she ever fully developed it and performed it, because the group broke up shortly thereafter when she moved to England for graduate school.
I had known her years before this, but we hadn’t pursued a relationship at the time. We were too far away from one another. I’m not sure why else. But in 2009, she got back in touch with me to see whether I was still interested — and we started talking all the time.
But the timing was terrible. I was in the middle of grieving about another relationship which had just ended. My heart was still somewhere else, so I wasn’t willing to let anything serious develop with her.
When she wrote to tell me about the song she had written, she told me why I had inspired the song. She said she hadn’t made the lyrics obvious enough for anyone else to know what they were about, but she said they were about me.
“David, I miss you,” she wrote that day. “Since we’ve been speaking again this past half year, you’re always on my mind. I dream about you, think about you and fantasize about you — or about ‘us,’ I guess. I’m not saying that that is good or bad. I’m only telling you what goes on in my private world.”
And then she sent the demo of the song.
The chorus is what I’ve kept coming back to in the 10 years since — and I’ve come to understand it more deeply as the years go by.
I’m sick of running
I’m sick of losing my way
This path leads to somewhere
I think I can finally say
I’m home, I’m home, I’m home
Nothing came of that relationship. The reasons don’t matter. I haven’t spoken with her for close to 10 years. We’ve gone completely different directions.
But I understand now why she made the connection in the lyrics between home and me, even though nothing about me had been literal home to her. I understand why the lyrics were about longing to see me — and then me meeting her at a station. But mostly, I understand why she equated all of that with finally being home — after years of running and losing her way.
Home isn’t a place. Home is someone who truly loves you.
And that’s why I’m still longing for the home I’ve always needed.