Home.

The view from the dining room table still feels foreign. I can see the University of Maryland through the windows. It seems awkward, this proximity to my alma mater, like running into an ex-boyfriend I haven’t seen in years. This place, this city where I’ve lived longer than any other place in my life, it’s felt like a stranger these last few weeks. It hasn’t changed much since I last lived here. Even my friends still live here.

But I’ve changed.

Immensely.

I pour hot water into my mug, and threads of tea and honey and milk sail on thin currents, blown into the kitchen from the fan in the dining room. The heat broke yesterday in the wake of a furious storm. I missed the storm, having spent the afternoon drinking wine in a friend’s English basement. I don’t need the fan on today; I just haven’t gotten around to turning it off.

Eric went back to Gettysburg this morning. We’re still working on moving our stuff out of the house and making minor repairs before the renters move in. I had work to do, so he took the kids. All of them. I’ve spent the entire afternoon alone in the dining room, with a sun-filled table and a fan I don’t need and an oft-filled mug of tea, working, editing, heaving frustration at my screen because this writer has no regard for parallel structure nor active voice.

It’s been so quiet.

But now it’s dinner time, and Eric and the kids aren’t home yet. I check my phone too often, hoping for a text that will tell me they’re nearly here. It’s time to come around this table, join hands, and share the things of this day for which we are thankful (quiet, sunshine, tea, children, partners), and eat. It’s time to end our days as we always do, in whatever place we’re currently calling home. I’m finished being alone for the day.

They come in with less chaos that I expect, but it still noisy and busy and filled with kisses and hugs and the urgency of, “Mommy, guess what!” At last, we can sit and eat. Together.

A bike ride through the city. A weekend with friends. A day of quiet isolation and work and an evening of children laughing and fighting and busying themselves with dinner and school-night preparations. The thin space between the silence and the noise, the alone and the surrounded.

This weekend has started the settling.

This place, it’s starting to feel like home.

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