Home: Chapter 1
It was just another day, just another bus ride. Another moment to float in a sea of thoughts, another opportunity to contemplate the unknown.
I’ve always liked solitude and the peace it brings upon me. It’s the only time where I can be fully in touch with my mind that never calms down, with the voices inside of me that never shut up.
I have this amazing pocketsize notebook. And when I say pocketsize, I actually mean pocketsize, as in, it fits perfectly in my pocket, unlike the wrongly labelled pocketsize books that clearly would not fit even in the biggest pocket of all time. Essentially, this notebook contains me. All of my thoughts, my questions, my observations… All of it is in there. Losing this notebook would be losing myself, losing what constitutes my personality within my body. This idea terrifies me.
That day I wrote about the Spanish word querencia, a word that I feel is a treasure within the world of languages. Querencia is more of a category rather than a word, and in it falls everything, whether it be a place, a person, a feeling, that makes you feel comfortable, that makes you lose any sense of vulnerability. I have and will always stay mesmerized at how one word can capture an infinity of places, people and feelings. Sitting in that bus, I realized that this stupefying Spanish word could be simply referred to as ‘home’, and so I wrote:
“Anything, anyone, any place can be considered home. It is what makes us strong when we feel vulnerable; it is our shelter when our world is crumbling apart.”
For the first time, someone other than Jared sat next to me. Jared always kept me company on those bus rides back from university, and I liked his presence because he brought about peace and calmness. I liked being alone, but I liked being with him, too.
The person who sat next to me that day was someone I’d never seen on this bus before. A woman who at first sight seemed quite simple, but also radiated a noticeable amount of wisdom. You could see it in her eyes. She was at peace, her face relaxed, projecting a smile like it was a habit. Her tall and slender figure made her look confident, and her green eyes, glittering like a child’s eyes would, softened her sharp and eminent jawline. She was one of those people who were always smiling, I noticed. I smiled instantly, then thought about how easily people could gain my trust. Maybe I should be a little more cautious.
I got down a few seconds later at my regular bus stop and headed towards the public park, my regular destination on chilly evenings. I shivered, rubbed my palms against each other and tightened my scarf around my neck. I pulled my phone out of my pocket—the one that does not contain my notebook—and dialed Thalia’s number. Even though it was freezing cold, I knew she was going to join me here in less than fifteen minutes. I’ve never known someone who was so dedicated and so loyal in a friendship, but maybe that’s because I didn’t look any further than Thalia.
“Tamara! I think this is my all-time record. I got here in only 6 minutes!”
“Very impressive,” I said, without lifting my head from my notebook but with a voice that exhibited a huge smile.
“Umm… Tamara?” There was a noticeable shift in her tone. I shifted from my position to face her. Next to Thalia was the lady from the bus, standing as tall and radiant as ever. She smiled, the crinkles that appeared by her eyes emitting the same heat and tenderness I observed on the bus.
“Hi,” I said quite simply. My voice had some kind of fascination in it. Why had she followed me?
“Hello, young lady.” She paused and examined me closely. I felt her gaze shifting from my face to all of my belongings I had spread out on the grass in front of me. “I noticed you left this on the bus.” She took out the most important thing I possess. My mom’s diary. The lady saw a violent shock followed by a sudden relief in my eyes and leaned in to hand it to me.
“Oh my! Thank you. Thank you so much. This is very, very important to me,” I said, my voice flooded with emotion. “I don’t know how I didn’t realize it was missing.” I was so disappointed at my carelessness. I am such a dumb kid.
“Perhaps you were a little lost in your thoughts?” she asked, nodding towards my open notebook. Oh. She knows what I’m like. And now she’s being mysterious, and I’m liking her even more.
“She always is.” After Thalia’s confusion had faded away, her carefree and lighthearted self emerged again. Her smile was considerably wider than usual. It made me laugh.
“Well, thank you again. I’m so sorry you had to go through the pain of trying to find me.” I felt very guilty. The more I thought about it the more I realize she went out of her way just to return my mom’s diary to me.
“Don’t you worry. I was actually getting out at the same stop. I usually spend my free time around here,” the lady explained.
“Sounds like a routine Thalia would enjoy as well,” Tamara stated. The lady laughed gently. She smiled and then walked away. I turned to Thalia.
“You’re such a lucky idiot,” she said.
“You’re so right,” I admitted, shaking my head.
“So, how far have you gotten in understanding what happened to her?”
“I am so lost. None of the pages actually tell a continuous story. Every paragraph, every isolated phrase is about a different topic. And it’s not straightforward. It’s…”
“Always finding the perfect word to say,” I said, pushing her teasingly.
“Let’s see.” She flipped the book open to a random page and read it aloud. “‘Faith must be required at some point; else it would be too easy.’ Interesting.”
“I don’t know what it means because it’s so out of context, but it sure is good writing.” I closed my eyes and laid on the soft grass, tickled by the warmth of a shy sun in a cold afternoon.
© 2017 H Bakerley