“Where are you headed?” the cabbie asked. “Going on vacation?” He’d just picked me up at my apartment with instructions to deliver me to JFK. This was just over two weeks ago, a sunny Friday afternoon. “I’m going to L.A.,” I told him, “Home.”
In college, “home” was where my family lived. My dorm rooms, apartments, and communal digs were temporary; my tenure in the sleepy, beach-centric college town I loved had an expiration date. When I graduated, I continued the transient life, making stops in Cambodia, New Zealand, Japan---and finally New York City.
I’ve lived here now for three years, and frequently get asked how long I plan on staying---can I see myself settling here permanently? Or will I move back “home” in a few years?
As with most big questions in my life right now, I don’t have answers. However, I do often tell people that New York feels like “The One"; that I love its noisiness and smelliness, its history and cultural mishmash. I live here and work here. Most of my friends are here. For all intents and purposes, my life is here. And yet, it still feels a bit funny to refer to New York as home. In fact, it's a strange concept for me to think of home as anywhere other than where my parents are.
Is home defined by family, I wonder? Parents? Friends? Or is it where you work? Play? Lay your head at night? I'm not sure. I have a feeling the answer’s different for everybody.
On my recent trip to L.A., I spent ten relaxing days padding around the house, chatting with my parents, sitting around the dinner table eating meals I grew up eating. This definitely felt like home. It felt familiar. It felt safe. And while I don’t feel the same attachment to the city of Los Angeles as I do to New York, most of my family lives in L.A. And that means a lot.
In some ways, my heart aches to set down roots somewhere, to feel like I have a home of my own. In other ways, I know I have the rest of my life to feel settled. As a fellow blogger said to me over brunch recently, “You have plenty of time ahead of you to sit at home in the suburbs on a Saturday night.”
Early last week, I boarded a red-eye flight back to New York that touched down a few minutes after 5 the next morning. The sun was just rising; I’d barely slept. As I climbed into the backseat of a waiting taxi, I could only think of one thing: bed. I closed my eyes.
“This it?” the cab driver asked, squinting up at my red brick building. Twenty minutes had passed. We’d arrived. I answered “yes”, thanked him, and paid the fare.
“Have a nice day,” he said, handing me my suitcase. “And welcome home.”