• January 31, 2020 |

    home, for now

    home in uppercase and lowercase

    article by , illustrated by

    Is home where we come together? 

    Does it exist in quiet moments, the tips of the sunset? 

    In the number of stars I can’t count on my hands? 

    Maybe along the edges of our noses, inhaling smoke from the dying embers of cheii’s fireplace? 

     

    The January night I returned to Brown, these questions flickered in my head. Walking across brick sidewalks is a stark contrast to running along dirt roads. The cold, wet wind of Providence stuck to my face, unlike the wind back in New Mexico, which brushes lightly over my nose. The moment my suitcase hit the hard, cobbled floor of Faunce Arch, my mind instantly began comparing everything at Brown to everything back in Shiprock, New Mexico.

     

    Home in New Mexico simmers under late night conversations, full of hushed laughter, casting shadows along dirt floors and broken tree branches. 

    Home in New Mexico speaks over the silence, howling like the wind through harvested cornfields and steaming hot chocolate. 

    Home in New Mexico sings out of shimasani’s beaten radio, spilling Diné bizaad around the kitchen table, sweetening her morning coffee. 

    Home in New Mexico warms my fingertips, slips down to my toes, silk on my tongue and firm between my teeth. 

    Home in New Mexico grows with each birthday, watching as chizhíí siblings slowly tower over grandparents and aunties. 

    Home in New Mexico slips into my hair, tangling as I toss and turn in bed. My younger sisters attempting to steal from the cloud of pleasant dreams over my head. 

    Home is the place lost between my fingers, caught beyond the Providence skyline, over miles and miles of stolen land. 

     

    But even as I ponder what I’ve left behind, I also see the value in what I’m returning to. Brown’s campus is quiet for the first few days back—returning a week before the start of spring semester leaves me with no friends to talk to. Though Brown can seem incomparable to Home, there are people here who make it a home of its own. A home for now, if you will. So much of my first year was spent looking for people who sparked a feeling of familiarity, who left space for others to breathe while in their presence. This was and continues to be important to me, especially as I attempt to navigate a place filled to the brim with unfamiliar emotions and pathways. And, though the search continues, I’m proud to say I’ve found a lovely handful of people who make Brown a bit more homey—people who see me as more than just another student in the crowd. Yes, I still compare everything to Home with a capital “H,” but there is still goodness scattered in a home with a lowercase “h.”

     

    home at Brown is sitting outside with friends on a sunny day, listening to music, and feeling the grass through our shirts. 

    home at Brown is late night trips to Jo’s for fries and orange soda, tying back messy hair, and slipping on coats over baggy pajamas.

    home at Brown is shared smiles over wooden tables, asking one another to pass the salt and pepper, because the Ratty food has absolutely no seasoning. 

    home at Brown is up four flights of stairs, buried in worn out couches, illuminated by frayed paper lamps, and smelling like dried oil paintings. 

    home at Brown is quiet study sessions, each person breathing in their own unique way, living in space. 

     

    Returning to Brown is always difficult. But as I enter the spring semester of my sophomore year, I remember how I’ve turned this place into a home with a lowercase “h.” The home I’ve found and helped make. The home where I’ve had hard conversations and watched as my friends and I have grown from each other’s advice. The pieces of home I’ve found in my roommate, my housemates, my community partner, and the lovely members of Natives at Brown. For them, I’m ever grateful. They all make up my home, for now. And while Brown and New Mexico carry so many distinct differences, I find in them a bittersweet handful of similarities. Home in uppercase and home in lowercase are still composed of the same four letters, even when it doesn’t feel like it. 

     

    Home is instantly recognizing comforting smells lingering in the air, whether it’s burning firewood or rain on brick sidewalks.  

    Home is seeing familiar faces, smiles lining lips and arms open to embrace—family and friends gathered ‘round tables and couches. 

    Home is a warm feeling near the bottom of your stomach, full tummies from kitchen meals and melted strawberry ice  cream for dessert. 

    Home is laughter spilling out the corner of your lips and filling your face to the brim of your ears, aching stomachs bringing tears to your eyes. 

    Home is understanding each other, opening doors for difficult conversations and whispering, I’m here for you at 3 a.m. 

    Home is knowing you’re gonna be okay tomorrow, because you’ve got people to count on today, both at Brown and in New Mexico. 

     

    Home isn’t so much a place as it is a set of feelings. This is my thanks to everyone both at Brown and back in New Mexico for making me feel at home with you. Ahéhee’.