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You Got Your Pens Moving: COMING HOME

Photo + Video + Film
by Teresa Ponikvar Jul 13, 2009

There was definitely no concensus among the Matadorians who responded to this week’s prompt. They saw “coming home” as everything from a relief to a burden; the gateway to another adventure, or an adventure in itself.

Check out these excerpts from their work, and take your pick of new perspectives on your next homecoming!

“I’ve found that sometimes, particularly after a protracted absence, coming home has as much to teach me as going away.”
–Tabatha Smith

“Sometimes people are shocked that I never went “home” during my two years in Lesotho as a Peace Corps volunteer. I think that they can’t really imagine that a small hut in a small village could become my home. Being a bit world-weary and cynical myself, maybe I couldn’t imagine it either. It happened, though.

I can actually pinpoint the exact time when I realized that my village was my new home. My first winter break from school was amazing. We went hiking on South Africa’s Wild Coast, and then I lived it up in Cape Town, treating myself to lattes and bagels and anything else I couldn’t get in my village. A train and several mini-bus rides later and I was back in Lesotho, walking the last 7 K over the pass to my village.

And there it was, my valley, my mountains, my home. Even with all the fantastic things I had done and seen on my vacation, and even though I’d only been in the village for six months, I felt everything you feel when you finally get home: relief, pride, comfort.”
–Stacey C.

“Coming home… feels like surrender.”

“There are two lines in front of me: Brazilians and tourists. The three weeks spent in my home country, in the land where I was born and grew up, are a clear indication that I am a foreigner, just like most of my fellow passengers. Yet I seem to fit neither of the options: I am not entering on a tourist visa, but two years in Brazil do not make me Brazilian.

I freeze, and a migrations officer notices my hesitation: “Are you a foreigner? Here is the line for tourists.” I flash the appropriate page on my passport: “I’m not a tourist. I’m a resident.” He smiles and points me towards the line for Brazilians. I breeze through immigration and customs, leaving all other foreigners behind.”
–Ernest Machado

” ‘Coming Home’ hangs like a dusty, renaissance oil painting in the unknown gallery of my soul.”

–Ant Stone

“I remember when I was only eight, and my aunt and uncle were in the West Bank, using their shiny US passports to get Israeli soldiers to let the Palestinian family they were staying with plow their fields. They put my new email address on the list for their emails home, and so I became a rare American eight-year-old: informed at length about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One day, I got excited because the subject line was ‘Back in the usa’. Opening it, I realized that ‘Back in the usa’ meant ‘[we] arrived in NYC yesterday, and we are leaving for Belize, Guatemala, and Chiapas, Mexico tomorrow.’ I didn’t see them that homecoming.

For me, the idea of homecoming has always come with the expectation that leaving will not fall far behind.

The travelers in my life went directly from Palestine to Belize. Even when they got back from Kenya and Uganda, their vagabond days over, they began planning: ‘Well, teaching public school takes up lots of time, but if we leave Christmas day, we can still go back to Mexico for a week and a half before school starts. And then there’s always spring break – let’s go scuba dive in Bonaire. And yeah, summer school will get the Masters more quickly, but there’s still time for a fast tour of Europe and a road trip around the West Coast.’

The way I know it, homecoming is another way of saying ‘Here we go again!’ ”


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