It was a word that had always been a stranger to him. Home had always been... Sleeping. Naomi told him that your body was your home because it housed everything that you were. That home was the Earth, that nature and life was home. Whether it was a tent in New Mexico or a commune in California or a Volkswagen bus on the beach in Hawaii. Her answer was a little too philosophical for a three-year-old, so he decided for himself at a young age what it meant. Home was where you slept.
Everywhere he started to call home would swiftly be pulled out from under him by Naomi’s roaming nature. She was very good at disguising and obfuscating the drift as a new adventure, not leaving everything that had become familiar. They’d give each other wide grins and she’d take his hand and they would hitchhike along the highway to the next great and exciting undertaking. They were best friends who always had each other, he was always at her side, ready to go, ready to learn.
Then, much to Naomi’s chagrin, he left the nomadic lifestyle of “never settling” and went to college at the tender age of sixteen. It had shaken Naomi, he knew, even though she tried to hide it. She was proud of him, of course, but she was shaken... and petrified. You didn’t get into college at sixteen without knowing a few things about the world, and about people.
He knew she would miss her shadow. And he knew she tried. She tried so hard to stay in Cascade for him. She’d lasted ten months before he noticed the weary lines on her face and her tired eyes and her jaw set as if she were ready to scream at any moment if given the chance.
“Mom. Go.” He’d said.
He knew that staying was slowly going to kill her. Her eyes lit up and a week later she was wandering again, ending up in Greece the next month.
And so he was alone. Alone to learn EVERYTHING. He ignored advisors and took the maximum number of classes he could, in no particular order. His advisor would set his schedule with things like speech 101, world history, algebra and he would go into the system and change it because he could. His schedules were things like ‘Prehistory: Development of Culture and Origins of Society’, world lit, and ‘History of American Sexuality’. He devoured all of it. He was never sure if he’d studied so much because he had such a thirst for education, or if it was just to someday find a place he could stay still until he decided he was ready to leave. Of course, he loved the knowledge, the world was fascinating, but after a few psychology classes, he decided he was searching for stability as well.
And the stability he finally found was, in the beginning, tossed into his lap begrudgingly. One week, he remembered fondly. Neither the Gregorian calendar nor any other form of calendar he’d ever come in contact with counted one week as three years. And yet, there he was, parking in the same lot for three years, climbing the same stairs for three years, unlocking the same door.
The same brilliant smile spread across the same face, eyes alight, when he walked in the door.
After he finished his bachelor’s degree, if you had asked him where he would go after his PhD, he would have said he would lose himself in an under-researched culture and learn as much as he could.
But, somehow, he found himself still in Cascade, Washington. Thanks to one single, instantaneous decision.
Tackling a man about to be hit by a garbage truck.
That moment pushed him into the bizarre timeline he was in now, the one he never would have expected.
He refocused his eyes back on the sparkling blue ones in front of him.
“I’m the Sentinel, remember? I zone out, not you.”
He grinned and threw his arms around the man in front of him, who automatically held him close to his chest, nose buried in his hair.
Home could be where you slept, it’s true. But home could be so many other things.
“I love you, Jim.”
It could be a city. Or a role you play.
“I love you, Blair.” Whispered into his hair.
See, for someone who had never had a real home before, he’d become lucky enough to have two.
One was the warm, inviting loft.
The other? The arms of his lover.