It’s been 156 days since I’ve seen my family. 218 days since I’ve stepped foot in my house. It’s also been 218 days since I’ve seen my cat Dufetta. Somewhere around then my other cat Abbey passed away. It’s suffice to say that it’s been a long time since I’ve been home. Days are not the only measurement that separates me from my home. Currently I live on the other side of the country. 948 miles by road or half a day’s travel by plane.
However none of this holds me from my home. It’s not a physical barrier that keeps me away. Money can pay for a plane ticket or a car ride. I’m currently 1245 days from home. 29,880 hours, 1,792,800 minutes, or 107,568,000 seconds. Whichever of these views look the shortest to you. Where distances can be overcome by money, time cannot. Time can only move as time does. It can only pass at a steady rate. 60 second for each minute.
Today my mother defied the distance and flew home after a week of visiting me. The barrier suddenly became apparent. The length could be measured by my text for her leaving the airport here to her picking up the phone inside my house.
The sorrow was the comparison of how quickly she arrived home to how long I have before I, too, can go home. It’s a math equation of the plane ride from South Carolina to Minnesota plus 3 and a half years.
Although I will never fully be able to explain it to anyone, going home temporarily is meaningless to me. It’s taunting. It’s daring. It’s ripping myself in half. It’s poison. So I choose instead to forget it. To forget that I have this time to overcome. This time to sit through. To wait. I choose to not even to go home in my mind.
I choose to forget the air that I breathed and the afghans that laid upon my bed. The cold dusty hardwood floors that held everything I owned up. The white colored walls that were like canvas screaming to contain my ideas and art one day. The messiness of my bed mid-day when the only creatures that occupied it were a cat or two. I choose to forget it. I cannot even dare to go home in my mind.
It’s like a sunburn that doesn’t heal. It’s tense to the touch. It feels like fire when something slams back into the memory. Like I’ve just laid on coal. Not even water soothes the pain. It’s something only time can heal. Something I have to avoid sitting against. Leaning against the wall to rest burns. Sitting burns. It all burns.
The only solace is in the fact that time, while not rapidly, will continue to flow. It manages to move. It doesn’t wake up one day and slow down. It doesn’t sit down and cry in the shower for an hour. It moves steadily. And one day this too shall pass. Hopefully like a fleeting memory. The sunburn, the sensitivity, the distance, the time. That will all come to pass. One day it will be 3 and a half years from now. One day it will be tomorrow.
Until them, I’ll be here. But the length has been marked. Both time and distance.