My parents’ garage is a deep and cavernous place, worthy of a treasure map. There are shelves of old dishes; teetering stacks of luggage; Christmas ornaments in cardboard boxes gone slack with age. Propped against one wall is a giant foam-core poster of the Sex Pistols, which I rescued from the curb outside a Hollywood record store when I was in high school. Lining another wall are piles of VHS tapes: Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Disney Sing-Along Songs. In the middle, there’s a stationary bike. An old washer and dryer. A butcher block. And in the back corner, a dining table from my childhood, a set of six wooden chairs, and a loveseat wrapped in plastic, never used.
I learned during my recent trip home for the holidays that these last few items were being saved for me. “So you won’t have an empty house,” my mom explained one night over dinner, “in case you decide to move back to L.A.”
My dad once told me a story about arriving in Hawai’i for the first time. Even though he'd never been to the islands before, he felt, to his surprise, as if he was returning home. (My family would later spend seven years living in Honolulu.)
A similar thing happened to me when I moved to Brooklyn, and fell in love with it in a way I’d previously assumed only happened between people. “It’s ‘The One,’” I told a friend shortly after.
Even so, I figured I’d spend a few years in New York City, and eventually return to the West Coast. Los Angeles, after all, has always been home base. It’s where my parents live, and my brother and his growing family, too. Years ago, when it was only one of two cities in which I’d ever lived, I couldn’t imagine building a life anywhere else. Slowly, though, that's starting to change. And I wonder, what do you do when the city you love most is thousands of miles away from so many of the people you love most?
The short answer is, you Skype. You text. You email. But how do these things measure up to conversations in the flesh? Hugging someone hello? Having a seat at family dinners?
I don’t know where I’ll make my home in the future, but I do know---instinctively, and because they’ve told me---that above all, my family wishes for me to be happy and to be living as full a life as possible, wherever I choose. On the flip side, I believe that “home” can be anywhere, as long as you’re with people you love.
When it comes down to it, my time here in New York may comprise just a chapter in my life. Or, maybe, it will be the story of my life.
Time will tell.
Last week, the day before I returned to New York, I had a conversation with my parents, about my future, and theirs.
“It doesn’t matter where we end up,” said my mom. “We know how to make a happy home.”
It’s true. We do. Happy homes follow happy people.
The rest, I trust, resolves itself.