feeling far

Today, I Googled how far from home I am. It’s 3879.187 miles. Roughly. This mileage represents my distance from Randolph, New Jersey. Many places and people feel like home for me, but Randolph with my family is the OG. Inshallah, I will be returning home for my siblings’ spring break this April. At that point, I will have been away for about half of a year, my longest absence ever from home.

Though I’m hoping to visit home in a few months, getting through the holiday season with my birthday coming up has already induced some uneasiness. It’s my first time spending these special occasions away from home and my family’s first time celebrating sans Christabel. I was talking about missing home with friends and mentioned that my relationship with my home is similar to any other meaningful relationship. It’s a comfortable space; it has its euphoria and nostalgia, its conveniences, both its monotony and excitements. It houses my tears of sorrow and joy. It knows me, I don’t have to explain myself. It’s unconditional. Even when I don’t like it there, I still love it. And my extended absence will not only put the strongest strain yet on my relationship with my home but also on my relationships with everyone I love. I’m confident it will also strengthen them.

Within these relationships I can’t be present in the same ways. They can’t be present in the same ways. In spite of that, they invest in me and I in them. That strengthens us. That they’re thinking of me and I of them. That I’m here when they call and them there when I call. That regardless of when and for how long, I’m coming back. That they’ll be there when I get back. That we have no doubts in our bond, only longing for each other. That we’re proud of each other for the life we create and enjoy even in the wake of each other’s absence. Endless gratitude to my home, my family, and my friends who are like family. I know I can count on you all to provide pizza whenever I see you again.

Though our bonds can withstand the distance, coming home means more than just seeing the people I love again. It provides the opportunity to demonstrate why I’m absent. I was an only child for ten years, content with the Maltese Peanut my mom bought me as a brother. Rest in peace. Then the sister and brother I didn’t think I needed proved me wrong. I can’t explain how committed I am to Simone and Elliott’s happiness and success, but the magnitude is derived from the insurmountable strength they have inadvertently awakened in me. What they become feels like a part of myself, a reflection of my impact on them. Sometimes I wish it weren’t because I don’t know what I’m doing. But I will come home and tell them what I’m trying to do. Justify the absence because it’s not abandonment.

If you read my about section, you’ll know I am indebted to my abuela, my mom, and my dad. They are the reasons I’m here, and I’m anxious to thank them again in person since realizing this privilege to a greater extent. In person because it’ll probably be communicated in tears and hugs as my words won’t suffice. After the thank you’s, we’ll have to eat some Chinese food, fried wontons specifically. It’ll be difficult to leave it all behind again to return to Morocco, but I’m pretty good at goodbyes, even when it comes to pizza.