It’s been an overcast weekend. The view of storm clouds are at full display to the west. There has been a peaceful and melodic sound of rain pattering off the roof. I’ve been hearing it from the comfort of my full size. I was tempted to stare at the back of my eyelids again while engulfed in the rhythm of God’s music. Against my deepest desires I stood up and plugged in my portable phone charger, adjusted my nuts, and then proceed to my latrine to take a piss and brush my teeth. Staring in the mirror I crack a smile to myself and step away. I grab my jeans from last night and throw them on. For the first time I glazed at my shoe rack to decide which pair to wear based on the memories I have had in them. I threw on a red and black pair of AIR FLIGHTS.
Opening the front door of the house I noticed it was drizzling. Light enough rain for me to actually enjoy the soft mist. Walking down manor drive I took a deep breath in, appreciating the clean airy smell. My smooth pace reminded me a company march across white sands missile range. Only now I’m sparking a joint instead of singing a cadence about a yellow bird. I always felt bad for that yellow bird. I exhaled the smoke and clipped what was left. I continued my stroll, taking in the nostalgic feel of my home town.
Most of my youth was spent in a 7 block radius spanning from Lombardy to Westminster. After being away for so long it is almost a unreal feeling to just walk the streets and take it all in. It almost seems unfair to have grown up here. The sound of the ocean crashing is what rocked us to sleep as infants. Our own version of the Aurora Borealis being projected from lightening bugs in the grass as toddlers. Super bowls were being played against kids from the other blocks in the bay parking lot during our early teens.
This is also the very location where would smoke pot, cigarettes, and get drunk for the first time. House parties in the basement riddled with alcohol, drugs, sex and physical altercations. This is the same place where we watched some of the people we knew stray down paths that should’ve never been taken. The years finally caught up and we were no longer naïve little children blind to our surroundings. All in all this is the neighborhood which for the most part formed who I am; this place consists of the building blocks in which my personal character was created from.
I left for nearly 6 years. During that time I was exposed to all different types of life. I spent years in New Mexico, nearly 2 years in Afghanistan, and also took the opportunity to visit some of the western states. I tried my best to see as much as I can and accept all the different things I have experienced with an open mind. In that time I have met some very amazing people and have had very memorable moments. From the back alley dive bars of Reno, Nevada to the back alleys between mud huts in the villages of Ghazni province, Afghanistan I have managed to open my eyes wide and absorb all the culture and knowledge I possibly could have.
In doing so I managed to expand my mind past these 7 blocks of South Shirley and continued to surpass the 118 miles of Long Island, New York.
The euphoric sound of the rain crashing into the bay water started to fade. I no longer enjoyed it. The feeling of home I so eagerly wanted to come back to was not there. I vividly remember a very dear friend was drunk back in may 2013 when I came home for post deployment leave, he told me “Don’t you fucking come back here for good Andy. I swear there is nothing here. Do not fucking coming back”. Those words reverberated in my brain for a long time. The image of his drunken anger and sincerity has been replaying in my mind like a traumatic event. I often think back to that when I’m not happy and I ask myself, should I have listened to him? I’ve been back in New York since October 2014. Since then there has been highs and lows. More of the latter and I ask myself, why did I come back?
I stood up from the bench and took one last glaze at the water. I took a deep breath, smiled, then proceeded to step off my left foot just like the drill sergeants taught me to do so many moons ago. I kept a slow pace during my walk home all the while thinking of the answer to the question I had asked earlier. Pondering an answer that would satisfy me.
Throughout the these past few months during the times I have been uneasy about being here, there has been a lot of factors that have made me upset. Through all the bullshit I have been struggling with during this transition of being back home there has been something that hasn’t changed. Something that makes every crappy day better. With all the variables there has been a constant. That constant is my friends and family. No matter what my family and friends have been there for me in my roughest of times. The images of football games and house parties are the past that I truly do cherish but we all have somewhat evolved from that. We are adults that positively reinforce each other to do better at whatever it is we strive to do. We promised to make memories that will last forever, just as those ones we still reminisce on.
Sometimes you will feel like you are somewhere you shouldn’t be and doing something you have no business doing. Whether you’re still in your home town or already ventured out into the world, the place you truly belong is where the love is. The power of love can get you through anything.
I know this all may seem like the rambling of an inebriated man but I really needed to this. I wrote this to help me figure out what I really want to do with my life. I have been in the air about leaving New York. This helped me make my decision; maybe reading this will help you. Probably not but I could hope so.
Home is where you feel most comfortable and the most love. Home is where you can wake up and smile and appreciate where you are. Home is where the positives of that place make the negatives worth dealing with. My home is Long Island.