I’m starting to understand why people stay put. To stay where one has deepest roots, to remain where one understands and is understood, to continue on where one is content and has no significant qualms has a certain charm. For reasons—some chance, some well-planned, others perhaps even strategic—all serendipitous, I have left a piece of myself in places far and wide and carry different shades of home with me from each place. Some are merely specks on my history—where I have visited others but have felt immediately at home, struck blindly, yet comfortably, with the thought ‘yeah, I could live here.’ Others are cities, towns, houses, airports that I’ve worn well—I’ve grown accustomed to their faces, as it were.
Yet, stubbornly, I insist on Louisville as Home. Which always causes confusion when people try to figure out my trajectory—Kentucky, New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania, and probably a handful in between.
With every move comes the excitement of another dot on the map, another place to settle and figure out and explore and discover the wonders and the curiosities that make each place unique. And then with the goodbyes—always bittersweet. There’s always something next, but in order to explore the next thing, to move on to the next step, or even to return home (or one of them), something must be left behind. And with that, part of who I am—part of who I am becoming. And like all things it’s painful—growing pains maybe? Or just the familiar, though never assuaged, pang of homesickness. In this case, though, the home is not a specific place, but a feeling of ease, comfort, knowing and peace.
My life as a perpetual student (going on 24 years now) has given me a collection of homes and families that stretches across the map, but has also inured me to the sense of restlessness. We all sense this restlessness in the search for feeling at home. When we move away, our new homes will never feel the same as the comfort of the walls or the streets we leave behind. A sense of feeling like a stranger in a strange land haunts us to varying degrees, at least for a time.
Home finds us in surprising ways. Often in the midst of our restlessness, in the midst of our searching, in the midst of “I-won’t-be-here-long” and “just-for-a-bit” we find ourselves at home. We find persons and places along our journey that serve, for a time, as a resting place for our weary, questioning, and restless bodies, souls, and spirits. Out of the sense of already-but-not-yet, often without realizing it, and without planning it, we find ourselves at home.