june, 2009, arrive at newark international airport. no dainty box of michel cluizel, no vacuum packed saucisses from the market on saint germain, no bottles of sweet white wine from a provencal vineyard rolled in jeans at the bottom of my suitcase. i carry my travels and a mouth full of french i can still hardly untangle. i am home.
october, that same year, it is JFK. i am running late, one of the last people to board the flight for ben gurion international airport, israel. when i approach my seat, a group of people whom i’ve never met, with the exception of my grandfather, cheer. these are the men and women from grandpa’s retirement home in mason, ohio with whom i will travel for ten days before stepping down from the high-up sights of the tour bus into my aunt’s white, dented compact car. home again.
july, 2010, run running on a delayed return ticket, surcharges doubling the price of the trip, stomach-sick, ill, suitcases heavy with new old clothes, treasures procured from friends and free piles pushing the duffles’ zippers to their limits.
september, twenty-ten. JFK. JFK. FJK. KFJ. JFK. bound for dublin. dublin delay. spend the day vaguely in ireland. eat pricey pre-packed sandwich. wait. wait. flight to paris. too late for the train. new tickets, new tickets. tired american gurgling french all the way to verades. in verades meet the contact, 30 years younger than imagined. spikey, frosted hair. heavy eye liner. spoiled-only-child daughter in tow. wait. wait. two nights in verades before the drive to cholet.
and then the bags. the bags in a narrow room, narrowly wide enough for its dormitory furnishings, but still full of light from the french-door windows, light shining on the white walls, the white tile floor, the dirty white cover on the mattress. it takes minutes to unpack, but hours to start unpacking. and, in a way, this, too, becomes home.
july, twenty-eleven, JFK, FKJ. parents arrive, highway feels strange, traffic delays, dinner, maybe lunch, won’t settle – not in the stomach, not in the brain. august, twenty-eleven: home to heartache, home again. family moves. highways make images of america real again.
september, twenty-eleven: clean the basement of me. i’m headed for decatur street. new couch. old boxes of the same things: pieces of parts of places i’ve been.