FADED POLAROIDS

Pascal Mercier said, “We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”

As I’ve gotten older I have come to realize that home is not a phyisical place at all, it is not a town or a structure with four walls and a roof. Home is a collection of things- of the people that we’ve loved, all of the places that we’ve gone, the passions we’ve left behind and picked back up again.

In the midst of the hectic nature of life, we lose the pieces of ourselves that we’ve collected along the way and we replace them with pieces that never belonged there in the first place.

Up North, in a dirt road town without a stoplight called Cotton, I find myself all over again. As soon as the tires of my familys four wheel drive hit the gravel roads and we’re suddenly immersed in endless rows of pines. As we pull up to a miniature log cabin, nesteled perfectly in the woods, as if it were placed right where it is for a certain purpose. Almost like my great grandpas grandpa who chopped every piece of wood and built the little home with his bare hands, knew that it was going to be just that, “home”.

Inside, the chipping walls are plastered with memories that date back generations. Smiles trapped in the faded polaroids, the very lives of the people in them shining through. There is something so hauntingly tangible about holding a photo from five, ten, thirty years back in your hand- feeling it’s gloss, running your thumb across its bent corner, and reliving the very moment of it.

The towering trees, stretching for what seems like miles, and I feel so small. I’ve watched them grow along side me, for all these years. Watching as the sun glistens through the small gaps in the tops of their branches, welcoming itself in like it belongs there too, so we belong together. As I lay down on the cold soft grass I can hear the voices of my family, muffled, coming from inside the four log walls. There’s something so permanently comforting about being in a place where the people know everything about you. They know every mistake, quirk, passion- and they have never loved you any less.

I carry many pieces with me, I’ve found myself in places accross the globe, in people right next door, but the place that all of those pieces finally come together is on that ancient dirt road.