I’ve been thinking a lot about home lately. What it does it mean to me? What does it represent? Where is it?
To paraphrase my dad, the house in which I grew up and the town in which I was raised will always be my home but it will never again be as I remember it in my head.
Sometimes I forget that while I’m off sailing/wandering/galavanting around the globe, time isn’t simply standing still in Maryland. My friends are moving out from under their parents’ roofs. They’re relocating for their careers. Hell, my friends HAVE careers. They’re discovering and creating new homes for themselves.
So when people ask me now (which they do with much frequency) if I “miss” home, or if it’s hard being away from home, it doesn’t have quite the sting you might expect.
When I embarked on my grand adventure, I was beyond ready to get away from my small town where everyone knew everyone and gain some independence. By the end of my first year away though, I was so eager to get back to Maryland; to see all of my friends, to hug my parents, to laugh with my brother. But what I found was exactly what my dad had predicted; a place that was the same but a feeling that was something much different.
It wasn’t mine anymore. It was my parent’s house but a sort of living memory box at the same time. My parents, now both into retirement, occupied the space in a way I wasn’t accustomed to, one in which I don’t even know if I could put into words. At the same time, my friends, once down the road, were now one, two, three states away. In retrospect, the visit was both comforting and shattering simultaneously.
At the present, I don’t even really know what exactly “home” means anymore. At this point it’s all a matter of context. The boat is my “home”; temporarily, our apartment in Victoria is my “home”; according to my driver’s license, passport and credit card statement, my “home” is in Maryland. It’s all relative.
So home as a physical location? Sure, I miss it from time to time.
But home as a feeling? All the time.
There’s a reason I have the GPS coordinates for my childhood home permanently inked on my skin. And no, it’s not so people know where to return my limp, dead body. Not a tribute to the four walls that provided shelter but instead for all the souls who came and went, the memories we created and the nostalgia I feel for them. If travel has given me anything, it is the appreciation for everything and everyone I’ve encountered.
“I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and the dragons of home under one’s skin, at the extreme corners of one’s eyes and possibly in the gristle of the earlobe.”
― Maya Angelou
At the risk of sounding cliche (don’t worry, I’m not going to call myself a “citizen of the world”), I’ve left my heart in so many places. In return, each city and landscape has left it’s mark on my being. How could I ever pick a place to set down roots of my own? I could literally envision what my life would be like in so many places, and that makes the future seem both liberating and terribly daunting.
So who wants to close their eyes and spin the globe with me?