I’m thinking about home again. I say “I’m going home” at the end of the day to my coworkers, but that doesn’t feel quite right. I said “I’m going home” when my brother and I flew back to Georgia to surprise Mum for her birthday. That felt right.
It’s trite to say that home is people rather than a place, and I don’t fully agree with it either. You don’t really know what you’ll miss when you leave a place. After a few months living New York City, I never expected to miss the familiar street corner where I lived or the uncomfortably quiet boba place that sold onigiri. Georgia was my home for a much longer time, so each day, I feel like I discover a new piece of my old life that’s missing.
When I was back home, Mum and I did our favorite activity— grocery shopping at the local Super Target. I need to make it clear that the “super” in Super Target is a perfect word to describe it. In my eyes, suburban Super Targets are the pinnacles of all human civilization. They’re lands of plenty where everything you could ever need is in walking distance, the lighting is extraordinary and the deals flow like water. I loved to just browse with Mum, getting our standard groceries and fighting the urge to buy something from the latest men’s clothing collection or a gorgeous piece of houseware.
Since my office is right by a Target, I go there multiple times a week, chasing the same feeling of joy. It never works. City Targets are smaller, terribly stocked, and feature the least intuitive layouts known to man. On a Tuesday afternoon, I couldn’t find the candle that I NEEDED to elevate the vibe of my bedroom. Failing to find what I needed hit me hard, not only because of the inconvenience but also because it reminded me of what I always had growing up in Georgia.
I miss a lot about Georgia, like the incredible sunsets, the endless trees, and the general slowness. I miss the horrible drivers who make every drive anywhere a bit of a thrill. I miss Waffle House on every corner. I miss hearing the booming bass of Trap music all the time. But of course, what I miss most is my family and the tiny insignificant moments we’d spend doing nothing, watching movies, and feasting on whatever incredible dish Mum had made that day. I yearn for the ginger cha we’d slurp down every morning and every evening.
Out here, I know I have to find my own little delights that will make this place feel like home. One day, I’ll miss the beauty of Dolores Park and the strangers who frequent the mini-golf bar next to my front door. Until then, I’m making my own versions of the comforts I love. I’m getting better at making cha, but my poor imitation, just like City Target, only makes me miss the original more. I hope that I can learn to appreciate the sources of joy in my life before they’re something to be missed.
Some days we can see Venus in midafternoon. Then at night, stars
separated by billions of miles, light traveling years
to die in the back of an eye.
Is there a vocabulary for this—one to make dailiness amplify
and not diminish wonder?
I have been so careless with the words I already have.
-Kaveh Akbar (2017)