Yesterday, finally, was a work day for me. Since it was pouring down rain in the morning, I thought it would be a good day to stay home and get stuff done. Of course as soon as I settled down at my desk it became a gorgeous day outside, but I resisted the siren call of the blue sky and puffy clouds outside my office window and got quite a bit accomplished.

After a few hours of productivity, which were increasingly interspersed with longing gazes out the window, I left the house just as it was clouding over again. Perfect timing. The threatened rain didn’t fall, however, and I made it all the way to uni without incident, stopping at a few stores on the way to continue my Christmas shopping. Once again, nothing was purchased other than a new textbook for my Portuguese lessons, but I enjoyed my sunset stroll through the avenidas anyway.

I met Gabe near the uni, and we went down to our usual shopping/cinema complex to take advantage of their cheaper Wednesday ticket prices. We saw Julie & Julia at long last, which my family had seen and raved about while we were busy packing back in August. Given our choice of movie, I felt somewhat sacrilegious eating dinner beforehand at the mall’s food court, as has become our usual habit. But since I am no gourmet, and had been looking forward to my salad and soup combo all day, that’s what we ate — without a bon appetit or a pat of real butter in sight. Alas. Julia would be shocked.

We both enjoyed the movie a great deal, but it hit very close to home on a number of fronts. Even though Julie and her selfishness often bugged the crap out of me, as did the many scenes where I had to endure the amplified sounds of people chewing (one of my biggest pet peeves), and even though the gourmet food was more or less lost on someone who considers peanut butter to be a big treat… I was still deeply moved by the film.

I ruefully empathized with Julia’s introduction to Paris: searching for something to keep her busy and give her life value while her husband was at work; trying to learn the language and getting frustrated with her slow progress, etc. And of course Julie’s similar modern predicament and consequent decision to write a blog, all on the cusp of turning 30, also rang very true for me as well — although I won’t be holding my breath for a call from the NYT any time soon.

What really spoke to me though was Julia’s unfading optimism and her love for her sweet, patient, rock-solid husband, even throughout all the moves and countries that his career took them on. When he said they would move home after he retired, she replied, “Where is home? Do we even have a home?” On hearing that line, I thought to myself, “YES!” I know our situation is completely different, in that we are only here for one year, after which we get to go back to our house and our home for another six full, lovely years.

But as I sit here, twelve days away from returning to the place I know of as Home, there is a tiny niggling fear in me that maybe, just maybe, it won’t actually feel like home any more. We can’t and won’t be staying in our house, our cat is no longer our cat, my dad is no longer there… and I am no longer the person I was when I left in August. I already know my fears will be unfounded and we will slide back into California life as if we’d never left, but still… I can’t quite bring myself to silence them completely.

When I voiced these concerns after we got home last night, Gabe gave me Mr. Child’s response, which really is the only one: “Home is where we are.” And it’s true: no matter how disoriented I get or rootless I feel, I know that somewhere in between the tiled red roofs of Lisbon and the rugged cliffs of Santa Cruz, we have each other, and we have our home. It’s nice to have a reminder of that fact every once in a while — even if it comes at the small cost of listening to a giant mouth crunching bruschetta or slurping buttery fish in surround sound.

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