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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

A Letter Home

Dear Home:

Dear Door – I remember so well the way your handle pressed in my palm, the precise weight against my arm, the exactly pitched creak of your melodious hinges. In my mind you open to a world of sights and smells; the familiar flowers, stone floor cold on my feet, memories of times when you were the gateway to a sanctuary, the warm embrace of safety.

Dear Bed – You are so much more comfy than I ever appreciated. How could a simple mattress, so much more than 2 inches of padding on a wooden panel, bring so much joy? How I long to sink into your welcoming folds and lie there till all exhaustion has fled from my body and mind. I would jump on you… or just fall asleep. Bed, I miss you most.

Dear Shower – Sorry to say it, but I’ve actually replaced you. Yeah, I mean hot water can be nice, maybe calming, maybe relaxing, but I honestly enjoy cold water in a bucket. I’ll pour it over my head in one slow gasp of refreshing, and feel cleaner than I ever did with your electric spigot. Although… I never was this hot and sweaty at home.

Dear Phone – Okay. There are times when I wish I could escape to facebook. Music! Music I especially miss. I wish I was able to use GPS, but sometimes in order to see more you must carry less. I’m relieved not to have you. Distraction, I think, would only be degenerative. I don’t want to be stopped from living fully. I don’t want to miss a flash of color or smell of spice. Any moment lost could be a lifelong memory missed.

Dear Car – The freedom you brought. The familiarity of the streets, the joy of the journey from house to home. As much as they try, Becoks will never be as liberating. More fun, maybe. But driving here in Yogya would just be to much. The flocks of motorbikes, the general lack of stop lights or stop signs or really any kind of direction, the men running with food carts, and wait did I mention the millions of motorbikes? I’d probably just start walking.

Dear Kitchen – The taste’s you’ve given me throughout my life are a world away from these chilly – filled, rice mounded bowls of deliciousness. Food styles so different I can’t even compare, though I’m starting to realize that not only is it possible to eat rice three times of day, but it is, in fact, a cultural expectation.

Dear Non-Quick Dry Clothes – I don’t even remember what you feel like. My shoulders and knees are so used to being covered, the idea of wearing shorts is almost scandalous. I have so much respect for the strong women and men who are able to wear jeans, long sleeves, and head scarves in this kind of heat. That’s some kind of devotion.

Dear Mountains – You used to rise above my home like beacons of adventure, calling to be explored. Now my skylines have changed and are filled instead with houses, universities, the buildings and shops and hectic complexes of a busy and wild and full Indonesian city. Grain fields have turned to rice patties. Only the lush green remains the same.

Dear Odi and Zeus, My Beloved Golden Retrievers – You remain the most amazing dogs in my life. I dream about scratching you golden backs and watching you run with the ebullience only a happy dog can fully express.

Dear Family – I carry our memories with me.

Dear Friends – I think of you and smile.

Dear Home –

I have come to believe that you, home, are a deceptive concept. I don’t believe that one house or one place can be the joy of my heart simply because it has the predisposition of being the setting for the majority of my memories. If home was just one thing then, to me, it could never be a house. I think that it must instead be a state of heart. Not a state of mind or state of being, but a way that your heart feels when you are given ease and joy by your surroundings. That moment when the smile comes from the inside, the outer shells collapse and you know, in your heart, that you are home. I have had to say good bye to you Door, Bed, Shower, Phone, Car, Kitchen, Clothes, Mountains, Dogs, Family, Friends – you factors and beings that have been my home. I chose to do this not out of spite but out of an inner compulsion to stretch my boundaries. To expand my mind. To fill my heart with the sights and sounds of the unknown, even if it meant squat toilets and bucket showers and fleets of loud, filthy motorbikes, or a new language and a new diet and a new state of being. I did it because sometimes one home isn’t enough, and when the heart says its time to go exploring, well, who am I to disagree. So, home, I have left you behind. But in many ways, in almost all the ways maybe, I haven’t left home at all.