Some homesick ponderings

To my faithful readers: Sorry for the long patches of silence these days. Whenever I start down the dangerous road of soul-searching via internet post, I have to step back and reassess. I can air my grievances and my personal insecurities to close friends and family. This blog is supposed to be about something bigger than yours truly, even if seen only through her rather limited lens. Thus I took a couple weeks’ hiatus to gain some new perspective, regroup, and dive back in. Thank goodness for a holiday in there, too. I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving–I definitely did!

I had to remind myself of that fact all morning, whenever I found myself inclined to gripe about Monday and coming back to the brutal reality of full inboxes, deadlines, disgruntled writers, and misplaced modifiers. As Bing Crosby crooned in “Holiday Inn”: I’ve got plenty to be thankful for.

Still, with the holiday season there always comes a twinge of homesickness. I don’t just miss my family, I miss that old, taken-for-granted, cozy sense of belonging to a place and to the people there. After four years of college and four more years of moving from one house and set of roommates to the next, I’m used to belonging nowhere, regardless of where I hang my clothes and arrange my books. I just don’t think about it much. Thanksgiving and Christmas remind me that I belong nowhere–not always the most comfortable thing to be reminded of.

My dad once told me that the concept of “home” changed for him once he met my mother. I’ve noted the same change in my friends who have gotten married. They are settled, as the popular phraseology goes. I would go so far as to say, they are at rest. For us singles, though, “home” carries different connotations. It can mean the place where my parents live, the place I grew up, the house or condo I own now, my current rental, or some odd mixture of all of the above, depending on context. But I know many of us feel a real sense of homelessness. We are not settled.

In a way we like it. Maybe I’m speaking only for myself, but it’s nice not to feel tied down to one place. It’s nice to hold onto three or four or five dreams of “my future” at once without having to commit to any of them (yet) or admit the disappointment of losing any of them. It’s nice to know when the plumbing goes or the door hinges creak that it’s someone else’s problem. It’s nice to have only myself to worry about. I marvel at those singles who own their homes or adopt pets. Isn’t that an awful lot of responsibility?

Still, the Advent season does set the old heart to aching for some kind of permanence. Maybe it’s the ritual of the season, from the familiar Advent candles at church to the tacky decorations in stores, the same old dusty carols, the cards, the cookies, the smells and sounds, the way we pull out the same decorations year after year and run through the same motions of preparation, but the excitement never dies away. There’s a lasting quality to this season that provides some peace in the midst of the restlessness that seems to define the single life. And nestled in with that peace is a longing that’s tinged with the sweetness of hope–a longing for home.

This is where I love the starkness of being single. We’re less hampered or distracted by more immediate realities, and it’s so good to get a clear view of our ultimate end. No matter who we might meet and settle down with eventually, ultimately we should always have this longing. After all, our home is not here.

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