Now that I’ve been “homeless” and travelling for a year, I’ve come to some realizations about what home is and what home means, to me anyway. I lived in Pelham, NY (a 25 minute train ride to NYC and in Westchester county) for 11 years and I walked to the train station in town and commuted to Manhattan for 9 of those years. I grew up in Williamsville, a suburb of Buffalo, NY, and spent a lot of time with my Grandparents in Lewiston, a suburb of Niagara Falls, NY. But I moved away from Buffalo just before I turned 18 and my parents moved away when I was 23. When I started college I met Pearson and started visiting and spending time where he grew up in Skaneateles, NY. Now I visit my Dad in Hagerstown, MD and my mother, sister, and brother in Baltimore, MD.
NYC was nice, but it wasn’t a place I dreamed of living or staying or putting down roots. I appreciate all of the wonderful things about Manhattan, but it never felt like home. I knew that home is where you feel comfortable and safe and I always associated home with just a feeling, but by leaving New York I realized that home is also an actual location.
I spent my entire adult life in Pelham. I disliked Westchester, though Pelham had its perks, and I never loved New York City, but I am comfortable there because I know it. I know where to go, I know the hangouts, the “scene”, the train schedules, the neighborhoods, how to get around. I don’t know those things about Buffalo. Buffalo is where I’m from but NYC is what I know.
When I think about home or creating a home I can imagine it abstractly anywhere, but the only real concrete experience I have is NYC/Pelham and in a way I miss it. I miss understanding a place, knowing the people and the where I fit in (even if I didn’t like it). That’s something you only get by living in a place.
So for me, it’s weird to think that a place I disliked so much is home, and will continue to be home until I settle down and establish a life somewhere else. But luckily home is also just a feeling, so for me it is any space where I’m alone with Pearson. It can be a hotel room, a bedroom at his Dad’s house or my Dad’s house, in our car, or being alone in nature. My apartment in Pelham was only home because it was our space away from the world. That is the ultimate comfort and safety, where I can be quiet and know I’m not being judged.
On the topic of home, there is only one place I’ve ever travelled to that immediately felt calm and safe. The Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park, felt comfortable to me despite a lot of stress and heartache while I was there. I passed through there briefly last fall, and then was fortunate to spend a week in there in February. So next week I’ll post a special blog about our time in Wonder Valley…