Home Away From Home

I’m at home when the echoing chatter
floating through the café that I’m
reading in blends into indecipherable
words and phrases that make beautiful
background music, not noise
I’m at home when I can read the
emotions that exist within the
conversations of passersby without
knowing what they’re saying
I’m at home when my pale winter skin
labels me a foreigner as it contrasts the
eternal tan of those who live in a
country kissed by the sun and the
shopkeeper smiles at me when I thank
him with a collection of syllables that
belong to him and not me
I’m at home when I’m waiting for the
metro and a couple approaches me
asking for directions and I have to
explain both the barrier that exists
between us and the directions with
hand motions and short English and a
smile spreads across my face at the
thought of them approaching me because
I appeared as though I belonged
I’m at home when I’m walking down the
street and I can’t understand the lyrics
of the song on the radio that drifts
through the open window of the car
next to me stopped at the red light but
it’s upbeat and happy and makes me
smile to myself as I continue on my way
I’m at home when I have to rely on making
sense of the flashing images of the news channel
on the TV that hangs on the wall behind the
bar at happy hour instead of the voice
of the man reporting what’s happening
I’m at home when I have to find my way
using street signs that contain words
and names I couldn’t begin to pronounce
I’m at home when all that I exchange
with someone is a smile, because the
exposure of teeth is simple and universal
and the best way to talk to strangers
I’m at home when I’m not at home

Caroline Burgoyne is Psychology and English double major at Arcadia University that enjoys traveling, reading, and writing. Lover of cats, coffee, and warm sweaters. Collects classic novels and beautiful notebooks.