What a home is

16 Dec

I’ve lived my life as a really, really, really lucky person. I’m pretty aware of that, even though I do tend to find really obnoxious superficial things to complain about all the time.

One of the greatest #blessings I’ve had is the chance to collect homes. Not houses, I’m not an obscenely rich plutocrat with grandiose mansions on each continent. But homes.

I, of course, have my parent’s house. They still live in the house we moved into almost 20 years ago, and that kind of stability means a lot. Wherever I’ve gone, it’s always been there to go back to. The paint’s a new color, the furniture changes, but it’s still the place where I did art projects and made up dance routines with my brother and watched American Idol. Part of that is the way Seattle will always be home, even if I haven’t really lived there since I was 18. There’s something great about spending a few days in my parent’s basement hanging out with high school friends before returning to real life.

I lived in Barcelona for a summer when I was 20. We lived in an apartment right across the street from a 700-year-old cathedral. It doesn’t get much cooler than that. My roommates and I didn’t get along, but wandering the streets of Roman-era Barcelona and swing dancing with locals on the beach for seven weeks was one of those experiences you just can’t replace. I didn’t realize it had become home until I went back 6 weeks later and realized it was the only European city I didn’t need a map in. I can’t wait to go back and use that mental map again.

There was the house I lived in junior and senior year (I don’t count dorms as homes because, well, who does?) with seven – often more, with guests – of us squished in a four-bedroom house. That house was falling apart, and it could never be clean no matter how hard we tried. It involved a bizarre rotating cast of housemates, but it was home. That house was basically a two-year extended sleepover, and it was awesome. It’s one of those things you can’t go back to, even when you go back to the place, because it was more about the time.

Williston. Williston was a weird, crazy, often awful place, but it was home. I have an affinity for it that will never go away, and I’m excited for the day I’ll eventually go back for a visit. It was a struggle, and it wasn’t somewhere I’d live again. After all, as my lovely roommate once said: “Somehow, every time I leave the apartment, I come back a little bit sadder.” But still, when someone insults it, it hurts. Because that’s what home does to you. And our apartment, our little happy place with just my roommate and I, was lonely, but it also involved Disney marathons and good books and lots – lots – of talks about our lives and goals. It prevented me from hitting a post-college rut, and I’m very grateful for that.

Then we had our beautiful apartment in Minneapolis. It was the kind of apartment I had always hoped I could live in – with built-ins and wood floors and a clawfoot tub (which are, by the way, way overrated). It was sunny and cute and every time I walked in it made me happy. We had parties there with new friends and the neighborhood was outstanding. I can’t go back to that apartment, even if some days I wish I could. But I can go back to Minnesota, and it’s not just a vacation. I have friends there, and favorite places. It’s pretty great to have that feeling of “ahh … I’m home” on both ends of a plane ride.

I’m back in Spokane again, and moving back here was the only time I’ve moved somewhere on purpose, because I wanted to live in that particular place, not just because I wanted a job, or to go to college, or a study abroad program with the right class offerings. It was the only time I’ve moved somewhere that wasn’t new. And that in itself was pretty awesome. I didn’t have to do the hard work of learning my way around, or making friends. I get to hang out regularly with awesome people I didn’t see for a year and a half.

Home, of course, doesn’t have to be a place you sleep. Driftwood, the community theater back in Edmonds, was home. Hopkins was home. Home is a feeling – a place where you belong. A place where you get to live your life. For me, every new home has been a new chapter in this weird story that doesn’t seem to have a plot.

I suspect, though, that when I’m 80 years old, the weird twists and turns might be my favorite part.

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