There is a children’s book called The Sick Story, by Linda Hirsch with illustrations by John Wallner. I don’t remember if I liked the book. The story is about a pushy only-child whose parents give in to her every whim. I think, even as a kid, I could see how bratty and nasty she was. But what stuck in my head after all these years wasn’t the story at all. The part I remember most is the illustrations. Lively, detailed little drawings of a sort-of sick, curly-haired girl. Simple pen and ink, but full of detail. Just watching the way her bedroom progresses from neat and tidy to a wasteland of dirty tissues, tossed aside magazines, comic books and tea cups is entertaining all by itself.
This morning I woke up with a stuffed up head, wheezy and achy. After two cups of coffee, with my brain barely functioning, I thought of a picture from that book that summed up how I felt. Luckily, for all of you, I still have the book so you can see it too…
When I was a little kid, the word ‘home’ meant my bed. The cozy comfort, the feeling of safety. I think of my mom rubbing my back all those nights I couldn’t sleep, wheezy and feeling sorry for myself and never imagining how little sleep the mother of five kids could have had back then.
As an adult, the word ‘home’ means this desk, this computer, my kitchen and my coffee maker. Those are the things I miss when I am away.
But right now, when I am feeling achy and miserable, these things don’t bring me comfort.
I want a tray with chicken broth in a teacup and a grilled cheese sandwich and a ginger ale.
I want my childhood bed and my mom rubbing my back.
Sometimes, the word home isn’t a place; it is a time.
And right now, I want to go home.