Last night I got off the train automatically, looking forward to the cool evening breeze and the relative darkness of the streets of Montmartre. In the Metro, with its stuffy heat and garish light, it is always day. Breathing in a beautiful evening at street level, I crossed Boulevard Barbès and made my way along Rue Marcadet past my favorite boulangerie and patisserie. If it weren’t so late, I would have stopped in for an apricot pastry. The quiet streets were soothing after the chaos of a free admission day at the Louvre and the sheer volume of thousands of España fans watching the Eurocup football final in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. By the time I turned right onto Rue Ramey, my sights were set on Montclair Hostel 502. I knew I just had a few flights of stairs to climb and I’d be home.
Tomorrow I will return to Liverpool after almost a week in Paris. I’ll start to get antsy as soon as the bus turns onto Menlove Avenue, and I’ll be standing at the front by the door before we even get to the intersection. I’ll get off at Woolton Road with a quick “Ta,” to the driver (probably giving him a chuckle to hear it in my American accent) and make my way towards campus. As soon as I get to Taggart Avenue, I’ll feel as if I can’t possibly get to my flat fast enough. Just a couple more blocks to Wesley 19C and I’ll be home.
In one week, I’ll be leaving Liverpool for good. I’ll take a coach to Manchester and a plane to Chicago. Then after a maddeningly long layover, I’ll take one last flight to Indianapolis. My heart absolutely aches just thinking of it. I can’t wait. I have had a Summer full of adventure, and I have made my home everywhere from Liverpool to London to Devizes to Paris. After all, a hostel you’re only staying in for five nights can feel like home after you’ve been running around an unfamiliar city all day, and a flat you’re only living in for two months can be called home when it’s patiently waiting for you at the end of each of your weekend adventures. But next Monday will be different. I won’t just be going home to a place that is comfortable because it is somewhat familiar.
I will be going where I will find the faces of people who have loved me all my life and people I will always love. I will be going to a place where Mom brings me tea in the Bunny Cup when I’ve had a wretched day and Dad always has some new project around the house to get my opinion on. To where Matthew will name all the stars in the sky for me and Hannah is ready to discuss whatever book she’s just finished. To where Nanas give bone-crushing hugs and tell stories I never get sick of hearing about when she was a little girl. To where Papa will play the Sweet Fern Jingle that he wrote especially for me and Papaw will fry me the prettiest egg I’ve ever seen. To where Charles will be waiting for me at the airport with that smile that makes me feel like I’m the only other person in the room.
This time I’ll really be going Home.