I now know why it’s called the red-eye. It was never meant metaphorically, no it wasn’t. Surely it was named by someone who looked in the mirror at the end of said red-eye and freaked the hell out at the sight of her red zombie eyes looking back at her in an airplane bathroom mirror. Surely.
This morning, when my eyes got home, they proceeded to have a red-eyed meltdown which revolved around the sense of nothing feeling like home. In the usual vernacular of meltdowns, the words “anymore” and “ever” figured prominently:
“Everything I thought would be home is not home. Anymore. Like the person whose neck used to smell like home to me, is not the neck of a person I can smell in that way. Anymore. And the person with the neck I would like to smell like home, well, that person and I had a bad day yesterday. And people I have thought of, in some way, as being home, are not. Or not really. Or not here. Anymore and ever amen.”
So, home. I miss it. Always have, I guess. Homesick and I go way back.
Um, Heidi-_ _?
Heidi-_ _?! Who are you calling me that? Show yourself.
Aw, Heidi, I’m your Chicken and I’m just playing with you. That’s what your mom used to call you, isn’t it?
When she was happy with you–
Well, she’d never call you that when she was unhappy with you, would she?
Exactly. So, that was just me saying “I’m happy with you.”
Wait! Did you say “chicken”? Did you say you’re my chicken?
Yep. You asked for help, remember? This morning, when you got home, when you were so tired and crying, remember?
Wait a sec… Are you related to Hot ‘n’ Steamy Monday Momma?
[Blushing] Oh my! I take that as a compliment, for sure, though I’m not sure Monday Momma would… though I would like to think I’m sexy, too, in my own way–
So, are you?
Am I sexy?
Are you related! Are you related to Hot ‘n’ Steamy?
Yes and no. Like her, I too am helpful when you are feeling alone in all the world and believing all the thoughts zipping across your tired mind. But I’m a chicken. I come when you need help of the checking-in variety. And also, missions–
So you’re a check-in chicken on a mission?
That’s one way to say–
Wait! Are you related to Havi’s chickens?
Yes and no. You could call us cousins… cousins I like to drop in on to visit on Fridays. But I am your chicken with a capital Ch. And I am here to check in with you and help you in a practical way.
Are you going to give me to dos and all that? Because I don’t think I’m of a to-do list persuasion today.
Oh no, sweetpea. I’m not that kind of chicken. I am a just-for-you chicken. Since today I can tell you don’t need to-do’s, we won’t have to-do’s. Trooth be told, too? [Leans in and whispers:] I never was much of a to-do kind of bird. I much prefer ta-das.
Yes, as in TA-DA! Voila!
Oh Chicken, you are kind to want to help, but I’m afraid I’m not much into ta-das either.
I’m feeling soooo wobbly. And out of place. And sad that every place feels out of place to me. And home is not home. And my insides feel torn up: at once ancient (in an old outworn grooves kind of way) and strange (in an I just moved into this here house and I don’t know where anything is kind of way). And oh but what I want most in all my life is to find home. To feel at home. That all is OK. That I am cared for. Can’t I just find home? Please? I feel like Dorothy when she discovers that the wizard is just some short little old man amplifying his voice from behind the curtain. Also, I feel like the wizard, knowing I’m just an old man amplifying my voice. I’m afraid there’s no way home. And worse than that, maybe there really is no home. At least not for me.
Oh, sweetpea. That is a hard moment: when the things and people that you’d hoped and dreamed would be home, are not… Or when the people you’re with–
Don’t get me. Don’t understand.
Ah, yes, you want to be gotten, really gotten. I get that.
Yes. [crying] And to be listened to, understood. And I don’t have that right now and I know, of course, that no person can ever be all of that to me, and that I’m supposed to be that for myself and blah blah and blah… But that’s what I most want in all the world, to feel truly at home, like I belong.
Oh Chicken, I can’t anymore. I miss the people that came closest to being home. And when things get to feeling really hard, I miss the neck that most smelled like home. And I hang on past when I should hang on… It is a very very lonely feeling this homesickness.
[Moves head side to side... listening, making clucking sounds...] Yes, my love.
[A few minutes pass] Heidi, now comes the part where I make a suggestion. Ready?
OK? [looking at chicken quizzically]
Oh, oops. Let me try that again. [clears throat]: Heidi, prepare to receive your first assignment for Operation Home.
[Heidi's eyes widen]
What? You wanted a veteran chicken?
Uh, I did not even know I wanted a chicken.
Oh, Sweetheart, please, a tiny bit o’ trust, please?
[Heidi raises a brow].
OK. Full disclosure. You are my first assignment, and… er… there were maybe a few days of Chicken School I missed —what can I say, they were going over horribly boring material and I preferred to be clucking about in the world, finding interesting matters to peck at— and OK… maybe those were the days they talked about how to deliver assignments–
Oh great! Just what I needed! A remedial Chicken on his first assignment–
Don’t worry, Heidi. I think you and I will get on just fine. Plus? I have Chicken supervision making sure I am helping you in the best way possible. And oh but I’ve been dying to get paired up with you!
I’ve been reading what you write for awhile and I was crossing my chicken wings that I’d get you. And I did, I did! And too? I got a special commendation letter from the Headmaster of the Chickens I can show you it if you want– [reaches under left breast]
No that won’t be necessary. So, what’s your suggestion?
How about some soft boiled eggs? Two. With salt and pepper. Huevito a la copa, as you said growing up. Or Weich gekocht, as you also said growing up. Eggs in all your languages. Eggs with your words. I know you love to play with words–
[Crying again]. Chicken?
Could it be that words could become some kind of home for me?
Oh for sure, my sweet. For you, for sure. In many ways, they already are. They’re how you come back to yourself. They’re how you listen to you. They’re also how you connect to the world.
Oh absolootely. Ahem. Not for nothing I said eggs.
Yes, sweetheart, of course.
[crying again] But I want the people of the smells.
Of course, love. And right now there just aren’t any around, and the people you were hoping to connect with in the home kind of way you aren’t feeling it with… But dare I say there are others that you do feel connected with?
Yes. Like the lovelies I knew only online that I got to meet in person last week and it was just great. And even though my gentleman friend and I had a hard time yesterday, after a hard time last week, well, there are some ways he sometimes smells like home.
But I want it to feel that way all the time. And it doesn’t when things are hard, which is especially when I want home. And then, when it’s so hard, my mind goes to all the necks that once were home, and I feel soooo sad. I’m afraid there will never be home like that again.
No, my love, there won’t. I won’t lie to you. That is sad. My feathers don’t mind some tears, really. And I hear that some of your friends have hankies, silken ones. Now might be a good time for those.
[Crying ensues for several minutes].
OK Sweetpea. How about getting to our Chicken Plan for today!
Can you please just tell me what’s next?
I did. I already told you.
You mean the eggs?
Yes, I mean the eggs!
Well, you’ll just have to come back and check in again. I am a one-egg-at-a-time-chicken.
But you said two eggs, to cook two?
That’s because I know one wouldn’t be enough for you. Just come back after your eggs, alright? I’ll have your next Red-Eye Recovery Operation Home mission for you then.
Oh! Heidi! I almost forgot. You will need a chicken-code to contact me for your next mission.
~ * ~
[punching into keypad]: #7638264533
Yes? Can I help you?
Um, hi! Chicken, it’s me! Remember? I did the code. [Whispers]: softboiled
Lemme see your eye? Bring it over to the Operation Home Mission-Heretofore-Impossible eye scanner, would you, and then look straight ahead?
[digital code confirmation information activation sounds]
OK. Identity confirmed: eye previously known as red, proceed. I will buzz you in and then you must remove your clothes and step into that there softest of all robes awaiting you and then go into the secret sauna where your next mission will be uploaded to your hands and arms, feet and legs.
Hands and arms? What about my brains?
Oh no, sweetpea. Chicken missions require hands, feet and limbs. We bypass the brain, thankyouverymuch. For some missions —many chicken missions, actually— brain power is highly overrated. We chickens know.
How were your eggs?
Soft and yummy.
Um, chicken? I’m still on the street here in case you forgot, you going to buzz me in or what?
Oh lordy, of course. Proceed as instructed.
I get buzzed in to find a purplebluewithshadesofgreen robe (with silk hankies in pockets) on my right. I put it on and proceed to the chicken sauna to await upload of next step in Operation Home (a.k.a. mission-heretofore-impossible) to my hands and feet.
And tonight finds me writing this here note, which you there, dear reading visitor, now find yourself reading. There is more, of course, but that, like my full agent name, is classified. If I told you I’d have to kill you. And that wouldn’t be good.
Hi! Come in, come in! I love company. The kettle’s on the stove for tea. And, of course, there are plenty of soft boiled eggs.
If you’d be so kind, please leave your shoulds at the door (even though I know the advices you might be thinking are oh-so-well-meant!) — they tend to track in winter mud.
What I’d love? Maybe you’ll “get!” what I’m talking about. And maybe you’ll feel less alone with you own hard stuff. Maybe you have your own version of homesickness to tell about. Those are the things I’d love to hear over tea and eggs.