During our seven weeks in Australia we have moved our suitcases and travel crib nine times. We started out with Nick’s sister in Brisbane, spent a weekend with his father on the Sunshine Coast, came back to his sister’s for a week, then spent a week on Sydney’s Northern beaches with his mother, a week in Sydney at a rental apartment to see his friends, four more days with his father, one night with his sister, three nights at my friend’s beach condo and back to his sister’s house for our last two weeks.
Each time we move Griffin asks, “Is this our home?” At first I would say no and explain whose house it was, which seemed to confuse him thoroughly. Eventually I began to say, “Yes, it is for the next few days.” To which he pensively answers, “okay,” proceeding to make himself comfortable.
For me it’s not so easy. The truth is, I don’t really feel comfortable in other people’s space. I worry about doing the right thing. How do they do their dishes? Is it weird to relax on someone else’s sofa? Can I eat their food without asking? Should I clean the bathroom?
In addition to worrying about intruding on his family I feel a distinct sense of otherness when I arrive in a foreign country. Even though I have been here several times before, I am aware that I sound different, I use different words, and if given the chance I would drive on the opposite side of the road.
A few weeks into our trip my worrying about doing the right thing began to rub Nick the wrong way and it made me more homesick. He became frustrated with me for not just enjoying myself and I became frustrated with him for not understanding my dilemma.
After arguing about this we decided to clear our heads with a sunrise walk along the breathtaking cliffs overlooking the Pacific. When we stopped at a majestic overlook I could see that worry and fear had kept me from drinking in the beauty that surrounded us. From this vantage he could see that I cared so much about what his family thought because I care so much about him. He reminded me that they are my family too and that I could allow myself to open up to the unconditional acceptance that families provide whether related by blood or marriage.
I decided to let go, to just be me, for better or worse. Instantly I began to feel more comfortable, peaceful and happy. I remembered how much I love this place- for it’s rugged, tropical beauty, the cockatoos and wallabies, and the people, especially our family, who we only get to see for a few weeks every second year.
Nick had to go back to New York a week early to begin rehearsing for a play, while I stayed to finish teaching teacher training. The morning he left I panicked briefly, doubting I could maintain a sense of home without him. That day I taught my teacher trainees the meaning of the word Om. Our text book points out that the word Om sounds like Home, going on to explain that it is actually three letters: A-the creation, U-the evolution and M-the dissolution of all things. It is also the silence into which everything is absorbed.
First I had them lie down in a circle and listen to a recording called ‘Sea of Om’. Then we created our own Sea of Om, chanting the mantra again and again until all our voices melded into one. The vibration lifted me out of my body and reminded that my true home is beyond time and space. It is the loving arms of the infinite in which we can always comfortably rest. When the AUM ended I felt I had landed right where I needed to be.
That night as I put Griffin to bed, he asked, “Where did Daddy go?”
I explained and he told me he wanted to go home too. “We will in a few days,” I assured him. “But right now let’s be in this home.”
“Okay,” he conceded, plopping down into his travel crib and falling fast asleep. I no longer feel that it is Nick’s family or my family. It is our family and Australia, just like New York and St. Louis, is our home.
When we have a comfortable place to rest and loving arms to hold us, we can be at home anywhere.