A year ago today we rolled into Indianapolis. Rolled might be the wrong word. Rather, we limped. Exhausted and damp, still recovering from the Oklahoma ice storm of 2018 that had left every last nerve frazzled. One kid puking, another so congested he could barely breathe, the baby in my belly still an uncertainty. A ribbon two thousand miles long stretched taut, separating us from everything familiar and precious.
This was the clean slate. Maybe too clean. The house somehow seemed more foreign than any of the hotels we had stumbled into long after dark each night only to leave before the following sunrise. Empty and massive in comparison to the little craftsman we has rented in the village for the past decade, it smelled like fresh paint. Even the dogs who had been unfazed by four days under my feet in the Jeep, were out of sorts, running up and down the stairs unsure exactly where they belonged.
In true Brisher fashion we’ve had no problem filling every corner with stuff. Spare computer parts, hot wheels tracks, a zoo’s worth of stuffed animals, leaning towers of books, stacks of hospital bills and crayola masterpieces cluttering kitchen counters in equal parts. The dogs have a bed in the corner of the living room and Scout made quick work of wrecking the couch perfecting a nest to nap in. What’s been harder to fix is the overwhelming tug of homesickness that crops up more frequently than any of us would like to admit. At least, after all this time we can predict its impeding presence better than the weatherman can forecast the chance of rain.
Some mornings I still find myself waking up wondering whose guest room I’m in. The light leaking in through the slates in blinds comes from the same sun but this house faces the wrong direction. Blinking awake, I see the pictures on the dresser are from my wedding. In the corner Hank’s crib comes into focus, the shape of him a shadow. The wrong light is the new normal.
Many months after we landed unceremoniously in Indiana, we rang in New Years on the tarmac of the Indianapolis International Airport waiting for our gate to open up. Ten seconds before everything flipped from last year to this one, an audible countdown started, punctuated by a cacophony of cheers from everyone on the plane as 2019 came to be. Everyone, that is, except for Harper who erupted into tears. After eleven days basking in the glow of sunshine and all the people who love her most, what we had left behind in California was as sweet and present as candy stuck between her teeth. We were too far away from home for any kind of celebrating.
I let Guy slip Hank into the carrier and wrangle Indy into the stroller as I waited for Harper to peel herself from her seat by the window where she was watching the bags appear from the underbelly of the plane onto a waiting luggage cart. As she slowly shuffled through the airport with the kind of sadness that’s impossible to keep to yourself, I made her promise me we would spend this year, however reluctantly, finding things we love about this unknown landscape. So here we are, strangers on a plain, learning how to yearn for familiar ebb and flow of the Pacific as we carve out a little place that feels like home in this rich Midwest soil.