A Mermaid Phones Home


Homesickness, I think, simply comes down to feeling that something is out of reach—the place you can't get to, whether it's till the end of the car ride, the workday, or forever.

There are many kinds of homes. Sometimes home can be a temporarily surfacing place, like when you go camping and the night gets really cold. It feels just enough like you're sleeping on the wild edge. A one-time deal: the home of longing.

There are homes that form when a tree meets the ground in a certain way, and homes formed just by where our moms are. The most special homes are those near any sort of water. A recurring rain puddle, a pond, a talking creek. In summer, of course, the ocean.

The ocean. Even in the magical realm, waterfront is premium.

The ocean is my favorite because it has to be, like you can't help that the sky is your favorite every time you remember to look up and there's that most compelling blue. My next favorites are tide pools, and then any place where water runs over rocks slowly enough to be heard and clear enough to see through. Those are morning and afternoon homes.

The home of night is simply bed. Any satisfying time of going to bed is like a religious experience of denouement.

Sometimes when the wind blows hard, it's reminding you to go home. That you can't listen to singing with the volume turned down.

Fall is the home of a job well done.

Summer is the home of vegetables and minerals, not enough water, and too much water.

Spring is the home of growing pains.

Winter, is different things to everybody.

I've been to interesting places I would never call home.

Home used to be my husband, before he got sick. Now it feels like a war zone where the bodies are still burning. I don't go in. I sit nearby, keep a vigil, pay respect. But I won't walk through again for a long time, or maybe never: until green things start to grow back, cover the bones, soften the edges of the blown apart buildings. Sometimes grief is your home for a while.

The only place that ever truly felt like home was my great-grandmother's summer house on Martha's Vineyard. It smelled perfect. We went to the beach every day.

When motherhood works out (though it doesn't always) the sweetest home is a toddler in your lap. That's when love is home.

But love is always home. 

This week, I received a landslide of love, wholly unexpected and dazzling.

Something happened, people. I felt the Angels show up. I'm still shaking my head saying, "Me? They came for me?"

In the moment when the giving gave back, when love crested huge in astonishment and all I could do was give back again bigger, turn the volume to YES—in that precise moment of change, the one every tide has, the pause and turn, where there is no gravity, where neither side is holding you—I came to know that my home, when I live only in the present, is right where I can ride the threshold.

Maybe giving is the mechanism of the forward motion of the universe, of energy into matter, of thought into thing. Maybe it's the actual mystical point of conversion, how the tide even works. Maybe that's why we all know giving is sacred, and the phrase "giver of life" means something literal and real. Maybe, it is the Source of All Things.

I don't know. I guess really none of us does, who sit on the dirt. But people—I swear in this moment, I can hear the fucking choirs singing.

All of that is fine and good. But I still haven't found my material home, in the regular world. The parts of it I can see from here: it's a small farm, somewhere on the Chesapeake. There are herons, hawks, and mourning doves. Small land tortoises if I look for them. The usual chorus of early birds. It'll take a while for the rabbits to come; they are skittish around change. 

It goes without saying, there are very special trees. A place with its own holy stillness, but also a place I can rock out to, like Van Halen on the radio in summer. The kitchen has a bank of opening windows, an old fireplace, and a door to the outside. That's all I know. The rest I just can't see.

I'm not home yet, but I'm beginning to think it might be out there waiting someplace, practicing dawns and dusks until I get there.

Maybe the poem of the tide is just,



Maybe it keeps endlessly coming and going because, for the circle of a tide, every point along the way is home. And maybe we're just mapping out our spots, day to day, on a coastline of curves along the spiral.