As a kid, I’d finish my dinner, jump in the shower, throw on some lotion and power, and run to my bed to watch new episodes of Quantum Leap. I sometimes give Sam Beckett and Al Calavicci credit for my constant pursuit of information about time travel, black holes, quantum physics and just plain ol’ life. It’s a show about a scientist who creates a machine that makes time travel possible, and he uses this technology to “make right what once went wrong.” Each episode shows him leaping into different lives to correct a mistake. Once it’s corrected, he moves to the next. His goal, though, is to finally leap back home. The last episode aired May 4, 1993. He never made it home.
Picture it: an 11-year-old kid, curled under his blankets, crying for this man. How sad it is, I thought, to want to go home so badly, but not be able to. And here I am now, a 33-year-old kid, with all the power in the world to make it home anytime I need to, but not getting there enough. Today, though, something came over me while my mother took me out shopping for clothes, and I think it was that thing my friends often feel when they say they’re homesick. I’ve never understood the feeling they described, and I wouldn’t say this feeling I had was homesickness, but it was close. It was just a “I need to do this more often” feeling.
I went by my dad’s and found every journal I’ve ever written in, starting with the one my beautiful friend, Yolonda Jones, bought me for my birthday a decade and a half ago. I found the old Jet magazines dating back to 1956, and the Life and Time and Ebony magazines with King’s Lifeless body and Coretta’s veiled face on the covers. My old yearbooks and love letters and poetry and plays were in boxes. My entire life in 4 cardboard boxes, and it felt so good to see it.
I had a great dinner with hometown friends the other night and Courtney say “You should never forget where you come from.” How many times have we all heard it and said it, but it sounded different this time. And I was grateful I didn’t become that person who left and forgot what home was, and all those who made it feel that way. The laughing we did, and the catching up, and the millions of memories we went through in such a short time is what home is. I’ve made homes out of human beings and I’m fine with that. Home is also those places I’ve never been but feel unapologetic about loving. Home is all these things.
For the last few days, home was Charlottesville, Virginia.
So Sam Beckett, my friend, I will go home and kiss and hug my mother aunt aunts and siblings, eat with my friends and ask about old classmates, pick up my niece and swing her around, and sit in solitude when the day ends and just be happy about it all. Be happy that I can do this whenever I want. And I will encourage others to do the same.
Darnell Lamont Walker, a self-professed traveling foodie, has been found sitting at tables eating baby goat sweetbreads, drinking tequila, and laughing loudly with strangers. The writer, filmmaker, artist, and sometimes photographer puts happiness above all.