Knock, Knock. Change the Lock.

Have you ever fumbled with your keys trying to get them into a lock and you couldn’t remember what the key even looked like?  You just had to try them all and hope for the best.  Once, I couldn’t get into my car.  I hit the button on my keyring on my automatic opener, but nothing.  I tried it a few more times because I thought there was no way the battery could be dead.  Still it did nothing.  Finally, I tried the key, and it didn’t even work.  There was a pretty big reason for this.  The car wasn’t mine.  It was identical to mine, but it belonged to my friend that had one the same make and model, and I was trying to let myself into hers.  Of course the key didn’t work, the lock wasn’t mine.

I spent years knocking on the door of a heart who never answered, and I ended up making my home on the welcome mat.  I was just optimistic enough to think that one day I’d finally pick the lock, hit the right combination, or be handed the key outright and I would finally see what made this person tick.  Some days I thought I was almost inside.  I had moments where I felt like I saw beyond the facade and beyond the day to day into something more real.  Conversations that were surface level ruled most days.  We discussed what we ate for lunch, what movie was being released on Netflix, who in the family was having issues, and then we’d hit this wall.  We couldn’t break through it, and I may never know why.

Trusting people is hard work.  Letting them see the you that most people don’t get to see isn’t easy because in order for this to happen you have to be vulnerable.  No one likes being vulnerable.  It carries risk, and the risk is rejection with a side of humiliation and a touch of unbearable pain.  So when someone lets you in, you should proceed with caution as though you are somewhere special.  Someone letting you in can happen in a matter of hours if you find someone that is a rare soul mate.  It can happen in days, months, or even years.  But there is a sad truth that some may never find out.  You can spend years with someone and never be handed the keys to their heart.  Their fences and walls may be up for even those most close to them, and maybe they just aren’t willing to risk it.

We lock our hearts up tight to protect us. We let some in and others seem to have their own roadmap once they get inside our hearts. But what I discovered is  there’s always the chance that someone is going to change the locks on you.  What happens then?  I had to change my perspective on this quite a bit.  What if there is a big reason you can’t get in? What if this lock wasn’t your lock to begin with?  What if the only way into the hearts with the highest walls  made of the toughest brick and stucco was from the inside out?  What if all those dead bolts they put up to keep people out of their innermost thoughts and feelings have to be unlocked willingly?  You have to deal with a reality that will make you pretty uncomfortable.  You were never meant to get in.  They didn’t choose to let you in, and they have their own reasons for that.  That lock isn’t yours to open.  Yes, it’s a hurtful thought, but either it’s yours and it won’t open from the outside, or it’s just not yours in the first place.

You can’t make someone let you in.  But when they do, make it count.  No one can live on a welcome mat forever.


Headed Home

It has been said you can’t go home again, and I can attest to that. Home changes as you go through life. Home isn’t a real place. Home is a feeling, and depending on how you were raised or what your life was like up until this point those feelings can vary. When I was young, home was many places. Home was my house, my grandparent’s house, school, and church. I dwelled in those places, lived there, made them my own, shared memories there, and finally left them. Those places are actual places, but the memories are the real “home”. Once my father died, my grandparents died, I finished school, and the church ceased to be home because of the people I lost no longer attending I didn’t consider those places home anymore.

Home, once I married, was a place where my family was. It was a place where my children learned to walk and talk. They grew and made memories there. They lost teeth, they celebrated birthdays, they played outside, they hunted Easter eggs, and Santa showed up. Once again, those places ceased to be home once we moved on and moved to another home. Each time we moved more memories were made, and each time those places took on a sense of home.  Memories are the childhood.  Memories are the home.  You might not be able to go home again, but you can’t lose home totally as long as you have your memories.

So what happens when you lose your sense of home altogether? It turns out you don’t die. You feel like you might at first, but you don’t actually die. A few weeks ago, on the heels of moving out of my “home” because of my impending divorce, I lost my job. That job was what kept me afloat this past year. You see, I teach. Every day was something new and every day I lived to go into the building and see these tiny humans and share their lives. I loved the pictures they drew me, and their smiles fed me. They kept me human. They made me laugh at times when I didn’t feel like I would ever laugh again. They got me out of bed each morning and made me sad to leave each day, and they never even knew it. They were my home when my own home felt like a war zone.  I lost two “homes” in one week, and now I have a clean slate to start with. Sounds empowering to some, but it’s a daunting task in actuality.

What should home be? Home to me is a place to feel safe in your own skin. It’s a place to share conversation and laughter. It’s a place for inside jokes and great food. No one judges you at home. Home is a place you hate to leave, and you love to return to as soon as you can. It’s a place to make memories. Home is where your desk can be a bit messy, or you can read tacky fiction and no one is the wiser. Home is where you can decorate however you want. Home is where no one tells you how many books is a tolerable amount. Home is a place to be you with no one telling you differently. It’s a place for your people, or your person.

Being in search of home is an odd place when you are in your 30’s. Most people my age have it together, and here I am feeling a little lost. The good thing about being lost is you can’t stay lost forever. Even if you don’t move, the places you are become home. Memories are made there, and you can develop a sense of home anywhere. It is okay to feel lost. It’s okay to wake up and feel like you don’t belong somewhere. It’s okay to know you are on the way to somewhere great, but you just aren’t there yet. In a way that’s where we all are. We are all on our way to somewhere great, and we aren’t there yet. And that? That’s okay.