Here is what I know about homes: You should not make a person your home, because when they leave, you lose whatever safety you found with them. Once I gave my heart and soul to a fool boy, and I made him my safe harbor, the only place where, by the end, I felt alive, whole, happy. That isn’t home, though; that’s a drug that requires a constant fix.
Maybe home is in the little things. I don’t trust that anything good will stay, so I find it in tiny moments, there and gone like a camera’s flash where you blink and ruin the picture. There’s the moment where my friends and I drank cheap Korean liquor on my 21st birthday, after I cried in a Cheesecake Factory, and marveled at how spectacularly bad soju was. There’s the times I have the sunroof in my car down, and the sun winks down at me, and the fields around the road stretch out to run towards the sky, and I sing and sing and sing and my voice never wavers. There’s hearing my mom’s freely-given laughter, loud and crackling as a witch’s cackle, across a crowded room. There’s the smell of my best friend’s hair, head on my shoulder, watching something on TV late at night. I can be safe there. I can be happy. If I cannot find it all the time, that’s because a house is not always a home, and I’ve seen a lot more houses than I’d like. Haven’t we all?
The human experience isn’t made for happiness. If it were, we’d all be bored stiff – or, at least, that’s what I tell myself. So if the houses outnumber our tiny, fragile homes, if my heart remains empty as a drum as I watch home after home burn to ghosts, it’s nothing to worry about, not truly. Without taking the memory of love out of its ashen grave every now and again, running my fingers around it and feeling my heart squeeze like a heavy-wet sponge getting wrung out to dry, how would I know to appreciate the times when it’s like I’ve opened a familiar door, and I walk in, and I am waiting to greet myself, arms outstretched and smile unbroken?
Cameron Sutton started writing stories as a child and has yet to stop. She attends the University of Mount Olive, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Creative Writing. In 2015, she won the University of Mount Olive Poetry Slam and has participated in and won several writing contests. She lives in Clinton, North Carolina.