I spent the better part of two decades trying to get home.
Starting in 1986, when I moved out of my parents’ house, everyplace I lived for the next twenty years seemed to be nothing but a temporary way station on the road to the place I would eventually land. The closest I came to “home” during those two decades was an apartment I hated in a city I grew to hate even more, although I somehow managed to live in both for nearly thirteen years.
On the frequent weekend road trips I took during my years in San Francisco, I use to find myself driving home late on Sunday evenings getting more and more depressed as I drove by all the people in their cozy little houses and wondering if I would ever feel settled like that. I wanted to feel comfortable in my home rather than feel that I was always running away from it. I felt constantly on the move–whether it was by choice or not was something I couldn’t say for sure–and it was often simultaneously exciting, exhausting, and depressing. On those Sunday night drives, the latter two forces were most prominent.
Our house in Winston-Salem is the only place I’ve lived since moving out of my parents’ house that has really felt like home to me. It hasn’t been perfect; the Triad is not the most exciting environment in the world, and the geographic separation from Mark has been hard to handle–sometimes almost devastatingly so. To borrow a phrase, no place is sparkly shiny and everyplace is just another place. Generally, though, I’ve really liked this particular place. When we moved in, I fantasized that this would be the house where we’d grow old together. I got through three years of increasingly long separations by thinking about how we were working toward eventually being here together.
Of course, the “together” part is the most important part. Yes, I’m extremely emotionally invested in this house. I’m much more emotionally invested, though, in the boy I share it with, even if we do share it in small, concentrated doses right now. Therefore, if it turns it that this is not where our future lies, so be it. I want to be where we can be happy, and that means being where we can be together. And that could end up being just about anyplace, I guess.
But I can’t pretend that it’s ever going to be easy for me to leave this house, should the time come. Like I said, it’s my home, and it’s the only place I’ve ever really felt that way about as an adult. I like the physical structure, of course, but I’ve also built a big emotional structure around the place and how I imagined our lives might be in it. I can put that all behind me, but I can’t deny that there will be a grieving process involved. But if it’s what I need to do, I’ll do it.
At the same time, I will also cling to the notion that there is a landing place somewhere. I know that it won’t be perfect or sparkly or shiny. It may take a long time to find it, and the important thing is that we find it together. But I have to believe there is some other place that will feel like home, too, and will feel that way for both of us. While I can absorb the idea that everyplace is just a place, I can’t handle the idea that everyplace (or everything) is temporary. It’s just too damned depressing. And I’ve spent too much of my life being depressed already.
I’m ready for a journey and an adventure.
I also want to come home eventually, wherever home turns out to be.