Well yes, if you consider that in my lifetime I've lived in the following places:
- 4 years on Long Island - 1 house
- 7 years in upstate New York - 1 house
- 7 years or so in Northern Virginia - 1 house
- 8 years in the Shenandoah Valley - 3 dorms, one house with ten females, one apartment with just me, one shared townhouse, a second shared townhouse.
- 6 months in Charlottesville - 1 house all by myself that I'm pretty sure was haunted with someone who was extremely unhappy about being dead.
- 18 months in Tampa - one small apartment
- 15 years in Connecticut - 1 small rented farmhouse, another rental house, yet another rental house after we got kicked out of the second rental house, a small house that we built, yet another rental house, 1 motel (you read that right), then one huge house that we built.
- 3 years in North Carolina - 1 apartment, 1 rental house, 1 boughten house, another apartment, and now the Tiny House.
That's a metric assload of moving around, don't you think? Pretty farking nomadic, really...
It's been years since I lived anywhere near the rest of my family, if by 'near' you mean 'within an hour's drive from where I live.' I simply don't have that history. Heck, my folks moved away from the ancestral home (NYC and environs) when I was 4, and since then it's been a slog to see any family member.
But some people I know aren't like that. Some people have lived in much the same place for their entire lives. They are FROM somewhere. They have history, family, a regional accent, a knowledge of how things have changed in their hometown, where the department store used to be downtown before the mall came, who got arrested for senior prank and is now mayor, when the row of big oaks on Main Street were planted, and why the DiOrios always have the best fireworks displays in town. They have a PLACE, an identity, a 'home,' complete with family that's also stayed put, friends who never left, a circle of familiarity that grounds them.
I, on the other hand, have places, and multiple personalities to fit them. I have no family around. When the school permission slips say "name an emergency contact who does not live with you," I have nothing to put there. When the petsitter says "maybe you could ask one of your neighbors to come let the dog out at lunchtime," I have to confess that I don't know my neighbors well enough to even ask them that kind of favor. When I think "it would be nice to have someone over for dinner," there is an agonizingly small number of people I could call; very few of whom live in my town.
I do have friends, and they're great people, but mostly they live very far away (almost beyond the "nearby" boundary stated above) and so the casual get-together is not so much casual as an event to organize. Nobody drops by. I don't do any dropping by. There is no middle-of-the-street conversation with locals, no recognition of friends at the grocery store, no causal chat at the CVS with someone you know.
And so, here I am - 46 years years old with no 'home.' This saddens me, because part of the lack is of my own making. Have I truly reached out? No. Have I been a catalyst for friendship? No. Have I gone out on a limb, seeking closeness and camaraderie with acquaintances, hoping to turn them into friends given enough time and understanding? Not nearly as much as I should have. Joined the PTO/church/gym? No. I've isolated myself, been stingy with my time, been hiding in my little corner of the world, hoping someone will invite me to dance (as it were), waiting people out to see who wants ME enough, and that's kind of backassward, isn't it?
With time I'm sure that Wake Forest, at least my little corner of it, will be where 'home' becomes. Of course my house is there, and I love the town, but I'm still a little rootless, still a little ungrounded. I've wandered around my whole life, brushing the edges of the local societies, always moving on to the next big thing, moving in and out of other people's lives pretty much at my own whim.
It's time to stop that. The friends I have now are loving, accepting, wonderful, admirable, and I'm lucky to call them friend (hi guys! LOVE YOU!). It's time to rekindle closeness with them, to seek THEM out and not wait until they get in touch, to rebuild, and then to reach out farther, to establish a presence, to root myself, to come to ground with the wanderlust, to make a home for my little family that we can look on with pride and a sense of place.
Maybe I'm done looking for the 'next big thing.' Maybe I've reached a point at which it's time to focus on the little things.
Like finding home.
This post brought to you by mood swings, and the letter I.
Y'all please have a great day, wherever you are.