8 o’clock casually takes her anticipated welcoming.
But when she arrives, Joy is spread within the confines of the four walls of my job.
It’s intoxicating how invigorated my coworkes become.
We’re all excited for the upcoming holiday, especially after having our own mock Thanksgiving for lunch.
Lisa suggests to me to take leftovers to the homeless after work.
I oblige enthusiastically. Here is a good, genuine hearted human I’ve grown fond of in the course of a few fast months.
Someone who makes me want to be better. And isn’t that what friendship is all about?
Scouring the city for homeless people proves to be more challenging than we initially thought.
So Lisa and I spend a little time exploring the streets around downtown.
While I drive, I listen to her adventures in New Orleans. She met many people from around the world, engaged with different minds and different cultures, exposed to new smells and unfamiliar but delicious tastes.
She’s returned home changed, more motivated, more happy, more mentally stimulated — more her.
I fall silent over her musings. It’s comforting to recognize this feeling in another person. The wonders of traveling — and how the experience changes you.
Around the park, we see a hooded figure slumped over a public trash bin. We pull to the side, and approach her with open hearts.
Lisa asks her if she’d like some food. The woman shows us a box she pulled from the trash and non chalantly musters a, “I have a pizza.”
Some weird combination of chemicals trigger my neurons, and I become very aware of the bass of my heart beat in my chest.
I am overcome with conflicting emotions. I am sad for this woman’s disposition, but I’m also extremely gracious to be alive and in good health in this moment.
We offer her what we have, and she gratefully accepts. As we part ways, she says a phrase very colloquial to my part of the states, “God bless you.”
It touched my heart, even if my own personal truth doesn’t align with this stranger. She gave me all she could offer, and I will never see her again.
Afterwards, I treat Lisa to a martini at a bar downtown that reminds me of one of my favorite bars in Madrid. The dim lighting and hoisted vintage paintings against brick interior makes me feel safe. I can’t help it, I miss being surrounded by art.
We don’t stay long, as I want to drive home this night and reunite with my parents. My first thanksgiving home in years; it’s tremendous for me.
Lisa suddenly gets a call from our former coworker but always friend, Jordan.
He had hastily just moved back to Dallas the day before, accompanying him his boyfriend. But this distressed his mother, and she denied their combined presence at the dinner during the holiday.
Again, the ever present feeling of the humming of my heart beat filled my ears.
I couldn’t imagine what he must be going through. Rejection can be so ugly.
I watch Lisa’s car pull safely out of my driveway before beginning my own journey home.
My mood is in a foul state at this time. From what happened to Jodi, and my own personal affairs.
Thank god for the drive. My mind needs the cruise control.
I set my phone away from me. I’m tired of responding to my current conversations, and just want solace in my own thoughts.
I think about the homeless woman. Did she have a family? Where would she sleep tonight? Did we give her enough food? Should I have given her a ride somewhere?
My thoughts drift to Jody. What will he do for thanksgiving? Why does he have to hide who he is? Why is it so unfair?
I say a prayer for the both of them, and slowly the prayer begins to transform into a long list of endless names of people I want to send good vibrations to.
Before I know it, an hour of driving has passed and I’m sitting in my parked car in front of my parents’ house.
As I walk in, I see the light in my mom’s room is still on. I enter unannounced, and she is still awake playing on her phone. My step dad is already asleep, but she wanted to stay up until my arrival. I’m touched with a pang of gratitude.
My step dad wrestles his sleep away, and gets out of bed.
“I’ve been waiting for you, let’s have a drink.”
I never turn down a drink, so the three of us make our way to the kitchen.
Gene is pouring me bourbon and coke, and my mom is warming up food for me. I admire the view, to have such wonderful people for parents. To be so lucky to have clean clothes on my back, food in my stomach, and parents who love me unconditionally.
My mood lightens up. I recognize this feeling instantly. Living in the moment and appreciating the now that surrounded me.
Whiskey on my lips, I hear my doorbell.
I see Ramon’s face, just in time.
While Gene is also pouring him a drink, I hear my doorbell make its second round of clonking.
Oh my god.
I hadn’t seen James in almost two years. Distance had separated us physically, but never our friendship. I held my best friend in my arms for a little longer than a normal hug. My lungs filled with his familiar scent as I ushered him inside my house.
And there I sat — a table surrounded by the four most important people in my life, laughing and drinking. Time had altered nothing. And in this moment, I couldn’t ask for anything more. I was perfectly happy. All my other worries disapated from my mind, and I seized this moment — the moment I realized that there was so much to be thankful for.
And I remembered the reason why I came home. My time abroad had been for me — but this year home, would be for them.
I went to Spain to improve myself for me, and now I am back for a year to improve myself for all the people I hold close to my heart — to relish the time with loved ones that distance persistently steals.
I felt home.
And I’m so thankful. For friends that know me absolutely and are so natural to be myself around. For their advice concerning my heart, and encouragement to be successful. For always wanting the best for me, and being brutally honest, especially when I’m wrong.
And for my parents. For always believing and trusting in me to make the right decisions for my own future. Maybe they don’t always understand the things I do, but for always, always being so supportive and loving in every action and choice I make. For always loving me, for who I’ve been, who I am, and who I’m becoming. An endless love with no boundaries.
I’m so happy to be home, finally.