“What happens when London fog and Starbucks collide?” I said dramatically, a few minutes ago. My mom, my sister, and Judith all stared at me in confusion.
“Is that an ad?” they asked.
“No. I just made it one,” I said.
“What happens?” they asked, foreheads creased.
“This!” I held up my Chai latte, created by Judith. She didn’t have any Chai tea bags, so it was brewed from Earl Grey. Earl Grey equals London fog, and Chai lattes equal Starbucks.
“I don’t get it,” my Mom said.
“I’m talking about fog, like fog in London. And Starbucks. Can’t you think abstractly?”
“That’s too abstract. What does Starbucks have to do with it?” Skepticism drips from three faces.
“What happens,” my mom says, every bit as dramatic as I, “is a dark and stormy night!”
“And look, there’s a Starbucks!” I hold up my yellow owl mug, joy on my face.
“It’s closed.” Mom squelches my enthusiasm.
And I am home. There is no doubt that this extremely vague conversation accompanied by lattes and laughter occurred in my own home in Pennsylvania. It’s been two weeks, and I am back in my comfort zone, back in these odd dialogues that seem to happen without any warning.
Today, I saw my best friend’s baby for the first time, and he smiled at me. His innocent blue eyes reminded me of the eyes of the girl who has been my comfort and my playmate through the good and the bad phases of life, for years and years.
Ben messaged me a little while ago and asked if I’m still alive because we didn’t talk since this morning. We are looking for houses, and talking about wedding flowers, and my mom found out that we are having an estate table instead of a bridal table. That tickles her immensely, and so, if you are like me and never heard of that before, google it. If it has a name, it must be okay.
I went back to the hospital this week, and the joy of helping parents give their newborn babies baths drowned out my anxiety of going back to work in a place where we scan our meds and chart everything we do.
I have also been typing away at a book about Bangladesh that I’m writing for college credit. When it feels like hard work, I remind myself how much I enjoy expressing myself in black on white. The words stating starkly the truths I have vaguely felt are reward enough.
Amidst all of this, how does it feel to be home?
When we arrived from the airport at three in the morning over two weeks ago, I sat in the hallway, petting my puppy and talking to Ben. The quiet of the house where I grew up fell on my over-stimulated ears like rain on parched cornfields in the summer, and I listened in awe. I giggled like crazy the first night I sat on my bed, and it sank forever and then bounced up and down, until I felt like I was afloat on a giant, squishy marshmallow. Now, as I hear the ticking of the clock and the pages of my mom’s magazine and Judith’s book turning—as I sip my chai latte and wait for Ben to message me back—I don’t wish to be anywhere else.
But still, there is a part of me that weeps for the people who have lost their homes to the fires that swept through the Rohingya camp in Bangladesh. A part of my heart does not forget the children running in cheerful crowds on roads of brick, and the baby goats that gambol where CNGs drive.
A few days before I left Bangladesh, Ben called me one night and asked what I was thinking about. “I’m thinking about all my people spread out all over the world and wishing I could make sure they will all be okay,” I said, sighing into the muggy night, listening to the horns in the street below our third-floor apartment.
I still wish that.
But it’s good to be home.