Four years ago, when Owlie and I lived with our uncle in Karachi while the rest of the family till lived in Chicago, I hoped that the phone was ringing for us from the US, and the home I missed was in Chicago. Four years later, I languish in Chicago and hope that it’s Pakistan calling. It’s an interesting reversal, and proof positive that home is not a location, it’s a feeling. Or, as the ten-year old calendar on my grandma’s kitchen wall used to say, “Home is where the heart is.” Although my heart is still safely lodged in my chest cavity, my ribs don’t feel quite at home.
I miss waking up in a happy sprawl with my pillows on the floor and my blanket under my head.
I miss reading the newspaper in the morning and then hopping into my pop can (car) and zooming off to work on the LEFT side of the road.
I miss the little row of zinnias outside of our front door and the two jasmine bushes that smell sweet at night.
I miss the dog, I miss her slobbery, unconditional love and the adoring look that she will give to absolutely anyone.
I miss the daily soccer game played in the field behind our house and find television to be a poor substitute.
I miss my brother, his brain full of interesting nonsense, his heart full of good intentions and his mouth full of amiable argument that he likes passing the time with. (Ten squirrels with machetes versus a bear with a machine gun. Who’d win?)
I miss my father, I miss him and his silly jokes and his cheating at Scrabble and his psychic ice-cream vibes and his motorcycle rides and the way that he sighs ‘Allaaaaaaaaahhh…” to himself when he’s tired.
I miss my mother, I miss hanging out in her waterbed with a bottle of nailpolish and a lap full of chocolates. I miss how she’s the only person I can hug without feeling self-conscious, how she will dance with me around the dining table and let me talk at her without telling me I’m nuts.
I don’t want to complain, because I am enjoying myself, and we have been hosted and received with kindness and love. We’re kept busy from morning till night with friends, camp meetings, summer parties and sight-seeing nostalgia, but when the Isha prayers have been said and I have again lain down in a borrowed room, my mind goes back to home, to the people in it and the four more weeks until I see any of them again. I toss and poke at a strange pillow.
I roll over.
I miss my bed.