On going home

Sunday, October 21, 2018 - 5:19pm

Zach and his mom

Zach and his mom Buy this photo
Zachary M.S. Waarala

“You always get to come home” is a phrase of my mother’s, tucked away in the attic of my frontal lobe. I’ve heard it since I was little — littler than I am now, that is.

In fourth grade, I had forgotten my math workbook in my cubby at school and I needed it to do my assigned practice. I can remember crying, yelling at myself for my stupid, stupid actions. It was the first (of many) instances in which my parents quickly realized that I was one anxious, stressed-out, high-strung little boy.

I got ready to leave for school the next morning, knowing full well that I was going to be in trouble with my teacher, when my mother told me that everything would be OK, and that I would always get to come home.

As I faced a barrage of verbal discipline from my teacher, I knew that when the bell rang, I would get to come home, and that nothing there would have changed.

This past Monday and Tuesday constituted fall break at the University, allowing many students to take a quick trip home for the extended weekend.

Oct. is, of course, one of the heaviest months of the academic term. The month finds itself at the crossroads of exams, papers, assignments, meetings, new responsibilities and the deadline to withdraw from a class — Oct. brings a barrage of tasks to stack up on a student’s to-do list.

I was not among the immune to this autumnal barrage. In fact, the barrage hit harder than ever. Every vehicle at the Oct. crossroads seemed to have collided with one another, resulting in a fiery wreck. I am that fiery wreck.

“You always get to come home.”

I embarked on the 30-minute journey to the corner of Canton I call home on Sunday afternoon.

The trees still exhibit a golden hue around dinner time, given lack of cloud cover.

The house will be filled with the smell of whatever candle is in season (around this time, the pumpkin pie candles make their appearance).

The desk in my room still creaks back and forth when I try to write.

The dining room table is still best used for folding laundry.

It is a strange feeling to be home after being so immensely preoccupied at my other home. I can’t help but feel anxious being away from the University; it is as though I have a million things to cross off on my to-do list. But I left my pen in Ann Arbor.

Going home presents a kind of constancy, an affirmation that some things remain the same. Of course, it’s different now, in that the children have all left, we’ve all gone away to college. The nest might be empty now, but it is still a nest. It will always be a nest, warm and safe, a place for rest and relaxation from the wild. And although she’s quite busy, the mother, the nest’s architect, is there.

I know that I’ll soon return to Ann Arbor, to face another barrage. I’ll face it head on, remembering that I came to the University to face its barrages, and that I enjoy facing barrages and overcoming their challenges.

And yet that’s not exactly easy. It is draining, no matter with what vigor I go back with.

But that’s alright because I’ve been reassured of the constancy back home, a thought, a sentiment to lean on. I can keep the thought in my back pocket, that if I were to go home right now, I know that the trees would exhibit a golden hue around dinner time.

The house will smell like whatever candle is in season.

The desk in my room will creak should I try to write.

The dining room table will be populated with stacks of folded laundry.

This is home, this is the nest, no matter how empty it happens to be. No matter the barrage I find myself facing, I will know that at the end of it all, when the school bell rings, I always get to come home.

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