Jason is already freaked out when he wakes up in a massive science lab, but things get amped up to eleven when he returns home and finds it unrecognizable. Now that's spooky.
My home should be my haven, a place of safety and comfort, where I'm surrounded by family. But it's not even mine. (3.42)
In many ways, Jason's home is defined by the hustle and bustle of his family life. That's what makes his parallel universe house so disconcerting: it feels cold and sterile in a way that his actual home never did. It feels lonely.
The ring is gone, but the proof of its existence lingers as a faint indentation around the base of my finger. It was there. (3.273)
The weirdest part about the whole situation is that Jason doesn't have anything to remind himself of home except his memories. Luckily, he's able to stay grounded by focusing on the most important aspect of that seemingly lost life: Daniela.
I miss my run-down brownstone that I never had the money to properly remodel. (7.399-501)
Jason gets so homesick that he even misses the less-than-good parts of his old life. He would give up all his scientific prowess in an instant if he could only get back what he's lost.
"At least you have a destination. A world you want to get back to. I can't return to mine, so where does that leave me?" (8.479)
We spend a lot of time thinking about Jason's home, but what about Amanda? She'll never be able to return to hers. That's a terrifying thought on one level, but it also opens her up to limitless possibilities for the future. She can go literally anywhere she wants.
This world, for all its grandeur, isn't my home. (10.90)
Some of the parallel universes are pretty sweet—like Future Chicago—but they don't quite scratch the itch for our boy Jason. Home isn't necessarily the objectively best or most comfortable place of all possible places; it's the place that means the most to you.
This isn't my world.
And still, my heart feels tethered to the second floor of this house in a bedroom where some version of my son lies dead. (10.265)
Even though Jason knows that these parallel universes are not his own, he can't shake his feelings of connection with them. This is especially prominent in the plague-ridden version of Chicago, as he's forced to confront his worst fears of something terrible happening to his family.
I stare at the page and begin to write down every detail of my Chicago that comes to mind. I paint my life with words. (10.669)
Jason writes down everything he can think of about home, from the sights and smells of his walk to work in the morning, to the near-perfect floor plan of his brownstone. This is what defines home for him—or at least that's what he thinks.
Over the last month, I've been in Chicagos that looked similar, but there's something different about this one. (13.18)
It's interesting that Jason immediately knows that he's in his home universe as soon as he emerges from the box. Why do you think that is? Do you think it's just a lucky guess?
Being with Daniela isn't like being home.
It defines home. (14.395-396)
In his attempt to write down every detail of his home, Jason misses out on something very important. Those tiny subtleties don't define home for him—his love for Daniela does.