Jamie’s and my monogamy with each other stands in stark contrast to our infidelity with geography. And, boy, Madison has been a hell of a fling.
You can’t marry it though. Even as we packed our bags, it swelled with the annual rush of new blood. It hurts to see it forget us almost as quickly as it embraced us.
It’s funny to think that the “dream” of living in Madison came almost ten years ago. Yep, I was going to rise through the ranks, garner more certifications, send out resumes and, god willing, we’d live within driving distance of that “State Street” everyone loves so much. Our love kept us on track, but the reality proved significantly different from the “dream.” Turns out, all I had to do was abandon my career and stumble into the English program at UW-L, before getting it my head that I wanted to go to a journalism school (there’s only two schools offering cheap, in-state tuition; we weren’t too keen on living in Eau Claire). The location stayed the same.
Now the “dream” is, strangely, behind us.
Moving forward brings about that semi-annual discussion of what makes a “home.” Does it look like the Lysol commercials: a father and children scattered out to work and school, leaving the matriarch to worry herself about sterilizing the countertops? Or maybe the “Willy Street” ideal, where home is, like, any place the establishment isn’t.
I don’t mind clean countertops. I don’t mind living out of my car (for a little while). The ongoing threat in our home is that we’ll sell Lily to the Gypsies. At what age will she figure it out: the “Gypsies” might be her parents?
Moving constantly, changing the dynamic of what makes a “home,” makes it difficult to anchor the concept against something real. We are, by definition, now homeless. But we are not without family, without hope, without a means to feed ourselves. I don’t have to shake a cup for a pack of smokes, or ask tourists where they got their shoes (“Ya got them on yo’ feet! Hahaha! N’aw, but seriously, if you could help me out…”). We follow the dynamic, the flow, the pulse of things. And within that raging river is a protective bubble that remains, makes us “J & J & L” and assures us that, wherever we go, we’re home. Even if that home sometimes fits in our car, on our back.
Sitting in my aunt and uncle’s “summer” home, I temporarily engage the idea of “home” as a place. Birds singing outside, a red coffee maker bubbling with our morning narcotic, a gas-smelling garage full of tools waiting to be used–all the great things associated with a home. Can I see it for me, and actually want it? Sure. But then all that goodness becomes background and I find myself looking to where the road disappears around the bend. How far can I follow it? I don’t know, but I can’t take the coffee maker with me.