A recent post from For Me, For You almost made me lose it. When do you know if a place is your home? How do you know? In the last two years alone, I’ve lived in Ithaca, Portland, San Diego, and Montreal. The first three places all felt like home to me. Montreal, I don’t know. I don’t know if it feels like home to me yet. But will it soon? And how will I know? What makes a place “home”, anyway?

I just returned from four blissful days in Ithaca. It is the town where I became an adult, it is the town where I started my life as a writer, my life that I wanted to have, that I chose to have. It is the town where I fell in love for the first time, where I discovered cooking, where I adopted Joni. It was the town where I got my first real job, where I learned how to ride a bike, where I learned how to live alone. Even though it felt so deeply good to be back in Ithaca this past weekend, it’s not my home anymore.

What is home? For me, home is where I feel at peace. Where I feel complete and whole. Where my heart feels content and happy, even though my life — like anyone else’s — is often pierced with confusion and uncertainty. But after only half a year in Portland — and plenty of murky ambiguity — I knew unequivocally that it was my home. After (almost!) the same amount of time here, I feel less sure. Part of it is a new city, in a new country, with a foreign language; part of it is lack of family, lack of hearts that sing straight into mine. I know these things take time; I wonder how long I should wait.

That’s enough overshare for now. But tell me: What is home? When will we feel at rest? I’ve posted this before, but it bears repeating, as a mantra, or a reminder, or a prayer:

Truly, truly you couldn’t speak of discovery of the unknown unless you were unknowing. You have to make a room inside your own ego for what you don’t yet understand, and hold open the possibility that this is what you’re actually looking for. And that then becomes a very personal matter rather than a universal one, because you can’t account for what other people don’t know. But you can acknowledge inside yourself those things which you did not perceive until the encounter forced you into a recognition. You cannot keep score of that for anyone else, but you can acknowledge transformation of your own perception by experience. When you find something about yourself, you don’t throw it away, it’s a treasure. It’s symbolically very important because it acknowledges a transformation in yourself.


3 responses to “STAYING CLOSE

  1. this post made me cry. it’s so good.

  2. Well, perhaps I’m not the right person to write about this, cause I still stay in the city I was born and raised, only left for vacations and some months in Paris. But I was thinking just today when I was riding the bus to my new job on the other side of town from where I live, that I would not like to live there, it’s considered a much nicer neighbourhood than ours (in fact ours is considered the worst, and when we moved there five years ago, bought a house, people thought we were kind of stupid) but I would not like to live there, not only because of the actual things that makes our neighbourhood better (the wood, all the kids, the low prices, the cool house we have), but because it would be too far away from “everything”. I thought this, and realized that it was ridiculus, our neighbourhood is not close to things, not anymore than the one I passed through this morning, rather it is further away from the city center and services. But our home there has become the center of my life, it feels like everything important is going on there, the things that are important in our lives, the small everyday things that makes up our lives. I can picture us there ten years from now, I cannot anywhere else.

  3. What Sasha said. And…”lack of hearts that sing straight into mine.” Beautiful. You’re singing straight into ours.

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