The first notable thing about Jay was his hair: shockingly blonde and spiky.
The second: He was late to class on day one, strolling in during introductions. The only open seat was next to me, so he took it. His very presence shifted the air from stale to charged.
On our first date, we talked for hours about school, Greek life and growing up. He was my foil: analytical, relaxed, naturally gifted. Yet we worked. Being together felt like home.
I spent the following semester in Cambridge, England. When a classmate’s boyfriend booked a flight to visit over Thanksgiving, Jay did too.
Under the glow of fluorescent lights, I scanned the crowd at Heathrow Airport. Jay’s hair caught my eye first: blonde spikes gliding across arrivals. When he saw me, his gait quickened. He dropped his backpack and wrapped me in an embrace. A stream of travelers flowed around us, rushing to their destinations, but us? We’d arrived.
We saw several sights that week. Yet the memory that stays is Heathrow — his hands around my waist, my head against his chest. Being held.
We are eight years married, with a home in Chicago. Over this pandemic, we’ve spent most of our time here with our son Jack, a preschooler.
Recently, Jay left for his first work trip in nearly a year. Without him, these walls feel hollow.
One night over video chat, Jay reads Jack I’ll Love You Forever. After Jay closes the book, Jack circles his arms around the phone. Jay “hugs” him back, blowing kisses.
What is home? Not a place, but a feeling inside. It’s the joy that he brings when we’re wrapped in his love.
I wrote this post as part of a Blog Hop with Exhale — an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in the “280 words” series.