Parting is such sweet sorrow. Shakespeare said that, right? Was it in Romeo and Juliet? Not true in every situation, I think as the train moves swiftly towards my destination. I use the word “swiftly” loosely as the train will come to its final halt after more than 13 hours. Sometimes parting is just sorrow.
The train has two seats on either side of the aisle and I, strategically, placed a bag on the empty seat next to mine and pretended to be very busy as people boarded the train. My brother and I had got a porter to bring my bags in (all 6 of them, according to the “check-in” people but one was a handbag and one could qualify as a laptop bag) and I’d been lucky to be seated before the rest of the people who did not opt for a porter. An old couple sits across the aisle. They had familiar-looking yellow and white tickets, four rectangles per ticket. I knew where they had to have picked up those tickets and I felt slight nostalgia. It meant they were visitors and now they were going back home, just like me. Except I was leaving home for home.
It’s so confusing. How does one define it? What is home? Where is it? Is it where your family is or where your life is? What if you have a piece of your heart in each place? Is each place home then? The train has stopped. We’re at Croton-Harmon, a sign says. There’s an arrow that tells me we’re moving towards Poughkeepsie. Somewhere online I had read that the left side of the train is more scenic, so I have a window seat on the left. I see a little park pass by, then a small harbour and then just the vast expanse of the Hudson for a few minutes. It’s better than the shrubbery on the right, I’ll tell you that. Little houses surrounded by woods crowd a few hills, visible only when the trees permit. They remind me of our home…the house anything but little; home nothing but.
You can’t see it until you come around the corner, see the mailbox, chance upon the driveway and look up at it. Each spot conjures up a memory. I’d look at the end of the driveway from the master bedroom on the second floor to see my brother’s car parked there and know that he was home. He can always make me laugh. His witticisms take me by surprise and draw whole-hearted laughs. There was a space in the living room where we sat on the carpet, doing our own thing, reading or furniture shopping on a laptop tethered to the internet by a cellphone, before the house was furnished. We only had each other and that massive house, empty otherwise was still a home.
I remember the day we got new bedding for each of our rooms. We made the beds neatly, beautifully. My brother’s room looked handsome, dark, foreboding with a blue carpet, mahogany furniture and red accents throughout the room. He keeps his blinds lowered so the sun doesn’t get in. It’s perfect for brooding. Mine had pretty salmon pink carpeting and we added white furniture and light blue and green touches. The next day I made my bed as soon as I woke up. My mother heard me walking about and came into my room, saw that and she was in shock. Not being known for tidying my room first thing in the morning, it was so inconceivable to my mum that I could have made my bed that she exclaimed “You didn’t sleep all night?!”
You know, I thought spending a childhood in boarding school, then living on your own, miles away makes you immune. I didn’t think I would miss home anymore. I thought I could stay for a few months and go back and not feel anything but joy at returning to my life. I’ve realised that no matter how often you leave, how long you stay away or how far away you live the people you love live in your heart and your heart refuses to stop feeling.