Wednesday, October 26, 2005

There's No Place Like Home

It feels like it’s been a long vacation. Temporary. It feels like it’s been as unimportant and unreal as a dream. Artificial. It feels like it’s been a piling of good stories to return home with. Thrilling. At the end of the day, despite everything that I’m learning and experiencing here, my concept of home is only further reinforced. My home is Oakland, the Bay Area, California, the United States of America. Sound familiar?

Friday was a good day: It was a half day; after school we went out to lunch at Family Restaurant; I went back to school and had a great Amharic lesson; Abiy took me to a little movie souk by his house and helped me rent movies; I embarked on a week off of school before we leave for South Africa. As Abiy and I drove home I was in a good mood, one of the best since I’ve been here. Everything had just worked out really well. I truly felt at home among the chaotic streets, the pedestrians walking alongside cars, the herds of sheep randomly at corners waiting to be sold into their death. And then I started thinking about what home is to me.

Home is people and places. It is knowing that we’re almost there because of the trees on Highway 13. It is the view of the San Francisco Bay at night. Home is meeting mom at the Peet’s in Montclair, getting a Caffe Freddo, and running errands. It’s going from running down the hill to the 605 bus stop in front of the empty lot, to driving to school and walking down from the lot with friends. Home is sitting on the patio harmonizing, going to blend with Charlie’s Angels, and having lunchtime talks with my teddy bear of joy. It’s getting in driving hours with mom along Grizzly Peak and meeting dad for dinner. It’s talking about going on runs around Lake Merritt, and at least beginning to go to the Farmer’s Market there. It’s knowing that the order is College, Telegraph, Shattuck, and San Pablo, and that the best gas prices are at Shattuck and 52nd. Home is deciding between Fenton’s and Yogurt Park. It is shopping by Campus, in San Francisco, throughout Emeryville, and desperately trying to avoid suburban Stoneridge and Sun Valley. It’s waving at neighbors you barely know and chatting with others you’ve known your whole life. It is 106.1 KMEL and Chewy Gomez, and 102.9 KBLX and Cousin Kevin Brown. Home is colorful, busy, summer is between July and October. It is every type of food you could want, but it gets expensive. It is boys that I love; some say, “DOON,” some are incredible actors, some are talented musicians and hippie-dancers, some look good in baseball pants, and some have been by my side through it all… I find something to argue about with most of them. Home is far away from where I am, and despite as unreal as my life here seems sometimes, home is even more illusory. I look back on it as a poignant memory, a happy reminiscence. Was it all just a dream?

As much as some people try to tell me this, Ethiopia, is my home, it’s not. And I’m OK with that. Because the home that I have is wonderful, beautiful, interesting, filled with people and places that make me happy. I love it.

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