I’m losing The Purple House this summer.
When I walk out the front door on August 19th with one magenta suitcase, a backpack, and a guitar in hand, I will never get to walk into my home again. It will never be mine again.
This will not merely be a mental separation, created by the expanse of eight months in another country. In June, my mother sat me down and told me, with the same grief of one who has just lost a family member, that she and my father will be selling our home of 25 years and moving from Sharon, Massachusetts to Indianapolis, Indiana shortly after I depart for Ecuador.
It’s the kind of house everyone loves, a tower-bearing Victorian on the corner. A wide front porch with wicker furniture, made for thunderstorms and hot cocoa. Stairs that creak, ceilings that groan. Heating vents that carry laughter from the first floor to the third. A tiny kitchen with yellow wallpaper and white curtains. The house that has cradled my childhood. A forever house.
Two decades ago, my mother, an artist, shocked the neighborhood by baptising the purely white home with six different colors, from blue to pink to purple. From then on it became The Purple House.
I did leave The Purple House once before, for my junior year of high school. My parents and I decided to take a chance and move to Madison, WI while renting our home in Massachusetts, intent on diving into the storm of a new experience. And yet the thrill of leaving home never felt perilous because of a buoy visible between the whitecaps: the possibility of going back. Giving in to the gravitational pull of nostalgia, I ended up returning to Massachusetts for my senior year, despite an overwhelmingly positive experience in the Midwest.
And now, I’m terrified.
The permanency, the finality of selling the house I grew up in makes hopping on a plane to Quito with forty people I do not know far more risky than it ever was before. I feel as though the rug I’ve been standing on for the past eighteen years has been snatched out from under me, and I’m in mid-air for a moment, dreading the inevitable crack of collision between my bones and a hard, cement floor. I have nothing to fall back on, only tumbling black sky behind me and a blank page ahead of me.
The truth is, all my trust is in Global Citizen Year. All my trust is in my decision to walk this path and my ability to take advantage of it.
Ecuador, Ecuador, Ecuador…I’ve said it so many times to friends, family members, doctors, teachers, co-workers, and strangers in the drugstore that it hardly sounds like a word anymore, just a jumble of noises with far-reaching expectations clinging to them. A vague mountainous backdrop, a faceless host mother pulling me into her arms, a montage-worthy vision of Fellows magically becoming my best friends. The gnawing fear that it could all be fantasy. I know what I am hungry for. I need Ecuador to start sounding like The Purple House, I need Ecuador to start sounding like Home. I have no choice. No one can thrive without a home.
Luckily, fear has not drowned my sense of adventure and hope. I may be in mid-air, but there is joy in free falling, an elation incomparable to anything you can feel on solid ground. They don’t call it free for nothing.