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Coming Home

by Grace Stroup

I want a house with giant windows near the edge of a creek, a ceiling fan, and exposed brick in the dining room. Two rooms, maybe three, and a kitchen so that I’m not itching to fill up space. Cabinets full of plates and pots and pans, the cupboard jam-packed with mugs from all the places we’ve gone. I want mismatched place settings and chairs that scratch up our floors, tangible little things that scream that we’ve been here, our imprint more than just a blip on a map. I want candle wax on the dining room table, cup stains on the countertops, and dust behind the couch. I want what we have to be enough and then some.
I want our tall yellow lamps to light up the living room on Sunday evenings when the sun is dipping down over the trees in our front yard. I want a porch swing and a grill, cool nights in August, and warm mornings in February. I want pink skies and baby cherry trees. A barn at the end of the road, sitting stoically in the summer sun. Baby goats, a bunch of dogs, kittens, and distant coyotes. I want fields of dune grass, gray catbirds, and morning doves sitting on my window stoop, hot chicken soup in the dead of summer, and cold
beer on Christmas Eve. I want a wedding at the end of May full of daisies and dancing, happy tears, relief, resurgence, and reminders of all the ways I get to experience and know love over and over. I want what we have to be enough and then some.
I want shishitos slathered in salt. Blistered peaches. Dry white wine over ice. Chocolate cake and vanilla sprinkles. A bad mojito to remind me what a good one can taste like. Perspective. French fries dipped in mayonnaise that’s called aioli. Toasted sesame seeds. Soft and sour sliced mango. Beer at baseball games and cultured butter slathered on sourdough toast with sour cherry jam. Maldon salt out of the container. To be satiated. To savor our splendors. To have what we have be enough and then some.
I want to be near my siblings, their laughs echoing off the walls in my hallway, joy bouncing from one corner to the next. To watch them graduate. Get drunk. Go with their gut. Cheer them on from afar. Watch them root in one spot and then gracefully leap to the next. To find comfort in our silences. I want trips to the shore, and campfires in the dirt, for them to know joy and find happiness. To reminisce but not romanticize. To live for now. For us to last and last like a fine summer evening. I want our closeness to be enough and then some.
I want my parents to have time.
I want quick games of UNO on sticky tablecloths. I want you to stop worrying about where all the time is going. I want concerts at 37 and dinner parties at 82. To read my book to my mom. To always wake up next to you. To welcome nieces and nephews through our bright yellow front door, fudgesicles on the front stoop, chubby baby legs and porcelain skin, little conversations of gibberish, and bright questioning blue eyes. To be 24 for a moment longer, to linger a little longer, to set my sights high and my expectations low.
To throw my phone in a vat of boiling shrimp. To let the sun set on chapters of my life. To leave the city. To drink tea on a screened-in porch at 11:13 — soft orange light peeking out from a fall fireplace –, socks and sandals, bad haircuts, and great paint jobs. To welcome writer’s block like an old friend, to recognize fear and jealousy, and to never wish time back. I want creativity and simplicity, to get to the end of my life and feel like an open book with the spine creased, the pages yellowed and dog-eared, to start at the start and end at the end. To have what I have be enough and then some.

Photo courtesy of Suad Kamardeen
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