I lay in a bed I've become familiar with the past few months... Smaller, but that's okay. It only needs to hold me and my dog and a couple of orange cats (when they're not sleeping on my chest). We lay in the room together, listening to the rain, and watching the shadows bounce on the walls every time the lightning flashes.
The shadows look different here. I've never seen this configuration before. It's not scary or sad. It's new. It's different than watching the shadows during a storm in a hotel room or when visiting a friend. These are the shadows of the things which comprise my new home.
That word has been on my mind lately. Well, not really lately... The past year, almost. I've not really been homeless, but nowhere has felt like home. And at the same time, everywhere has felt like home. Every friend I visited invited me into their homes and allowed me a place to feel welcomed and warm and loved. And I love them. Each and every one of them, I love them. They are my family.
Now, I've got a place to be. A place for my stuff, as little as I have left. A place for my animals. A place to cuddle with them and sleep with them and be lazy with them. A place to fight with my cat Julius over the pieces of beef jerky I snack on periodically. A place to vaccum when Buzz sheds. A place to watch my dog Haggis dance when she sees me reach for her leash.
I was born here. Hapeville, GA, just by the airport. My mother tells me that she and my birth father lived here for a year when they had me, before they moved to Decatur. The apartments they lived in are just down Virginia Avenue. I pass them when I go for my morning runs. I don't remember them.
Funny that my life is restarting here, I suppose. Funny, and fortunate that I get to be born again. I get to live with my oldest friend. He understands me. He annoys me. He knows every button there is to push with me. He knows when I need my space. He knows when to give it and when not to. Despite the fact we haven't lived together for nearly 12 years, we have fallen right in step. New jokes, same attitude. New activities, same love.
This is a new book in my life. It took me longer than it should have to start it. Anytime you go to start a new book, you drag your feet a little. Books take a while to get started. There's all the preamble and introduction and character building and plot rising... It's work. And I spent a little too long reading the last chapters of the last book of my life over and over.
I sit here watching the lightning flash through the windows and listening to the same old rain fall on an all new roof and process all these new inputs. I'm not used to it yet. I probably won't be for a good long while. When I am, it won't hit me like "Hey, I'm finally used to this." It'll just happen. It won't even be a thought.
The storm will roll in and the rain will start and I'll watch the lighting flash, and I won't think how unfamiliar the shadows look or how different the rain sounds against the shutters. I'll be on to something else. And that thought -- the familiar feeling of not being aware things are familiar -- makes me smile.
In the end, It doesn't matter what happened to me. I've taken some insanely bad beats this year. It's hard to have perspective, but in my clearest moments, I realize I am the luckiest man alive. I have people in my life who love me and support me. I have my dog and my orange cats and a mission. I have you, reading this right now. I have hope.
I have hope.