Joseph Natali, C’19
I sit on my porch, pipe in hand, reclining in a decaying camp chair while fragrant smoke curls around my head.
It’s too hot for the end of September, and I wonder if it has anything to do with the burning forest the next state over.
A year ago, sweat would have dripped down my back as I stubbornly indulged my vices, despite unnatural heat.
Now, 90 is comfortable, and I shudder to think how my tolerance for the cold must have dwindled in a year.
The desert may have laid this small claim to my body, but my soul belongs to brisk summer evenings and humid August afternoons. To peeling wallpaper from the 80s, and a muddy hole that was supposed to be a patio. To a land where it snows in April and is 70 degrees in February.
I have been told that home is where you choose to make it, but I have not been told that this choice would be so hard to make, hard to the point where I no longer believe I wish to make it, nor that I have any right to do so.
My home is where I first learned to love the things I love. Home is where I listened to my father read to me, telling stories of heroes who left their home so that they had a home to which they could proudly return. Home is where I watched my grandfather whither away to a husk of who he was, all the while laughing like he used to in the most perplexing of paradoxes.
Home is not just my home, but also also where I can see alight shining on God’s brown brick house, grey spires oddly yellow in the spotlight glare, as I drive past a booth that I’m still not sure the purpose of, at some ungoldly hour of the night.
I did not build my home alone, it was also made for me, by strangers and teachers whom I now call my dearest friends. I found my home in the whitewashed halls and glass-topped conference table at which I discussed great ideas and also laughed at Hegel’s inconsistencies.
Once at home, I wandered, heartbroken and morose, until a man took me into his office to discuss Flannery O’Connor and Aristotle, for no reason other than that I looked lost and upset. It was things like this that made it Home.
As I sit on my porch in my roommate’s ragged chair, I think of Home and how I miss it. No matter what work I find out here, among the mountains and the cacti, no matter what new things I come to love out in this strangely beautiful land, I cannot bring myself to build a new home. To do so would be to betray the old.
At home I learned to love the things I love, and then to love them better, and then learned to love what I love best.