“Home” for the Holidays

Home is where the heart is

As a part of my post-graduate transition, one of my main focuses (outside of feeding myself and maintaining adequate transportation) has been to create for myself a home, as opposed to the college crash den I’d kept for the past two years.

“Home” is a tricky thing. About four years ago, one of my more pleasant friends (crooked-smile) pointed out to me the absence of that word  in my vocabulary.

She told me I rarely use that word, “home;” that I never say things like “Let’s go home.” Instead, I say things like “Let’s go ‘to the apartment.'”

Overly critical and analytical?

Maybe.

But I’ve always since thought she was on to something.

My brother moved in with me a couple weeks ago, and whenever it’s time to leave the place we were for the place we dwell, he says “Are you ready to go ‘home’?”

I say, “Yeah, let’s go to the apartment.”

It doesn’t quite feel like home yet.

When my brother and I were in elementary school, my mother moved us either from state-to-state or across the same state or city no less than once a year. As I entered middle school, it slowed to about once every two years, all the way up through when I graduated from high school, where I began to move myself from state-to-state or across the state every year.

Until I went to college, and graduated.

Now I’m Ms. Two-Year Lease because I am so sick of moving and so ready to have a home, and a hometown. I am ready to know my neighbors; to have things like a local mechanic and a guy I go to for my greens (oh, he’s out there, and he has leaves as big as elephant ears).

As much as I’m ready to travel and see the world, I’m also embarking on the greatest unknown experience of my young life: staying somewhere and making it my home.

It’s an interesting experience, being uprooted so often. On the one hand, it leaves you feeling sort of disconnected–I look around at some people who have lived in the same place for their entire lives and I see their ties: parks they played on when they were kids, then drank smuggled beer and smoked oregano/pot mixtures on as teenagers; friends who knew them from when they were tomboys to punk rock to goth back to themselves; addresses and phone numbers that any random ex could remember and call and catch their parents; and I think, “How could you ever feel lost when you know exactly where to go to find your whole life?”

That’s got to be beautiful–and it’s something I don’t really have.

…or do I?

I decided to spend this holiday with my dad, who lives in the city in which I was born (one of the Canadian Border-area places). And let me tell you something: This is one place that my mom, brother and I neh-heh-HEVAR visited when we were growing up. I think I was maybe five when we left, and I’m pretty sure I could count the times on one hand that I’ve been back since.

And yet I get here, and it’s strangely familiar. Cold as all get out, but I look at the streets and I have flashes of half-forgotten memories: Oh, I walked to this bus stop with Mom Bom (my now-deceased great-grandmother); Oh, that’s where Grandma lived; Oh, I remember having a blue snowsuit I wore once to this corner store.

And though they are few, there are people here who have known me, literally, since the crib. I had brunch with my cousin yesterday–my mom’s best friend’s daughter. We were born 10 days apart; Our mothers literally decided that whoever was born first would be named Britney, and the other would be the fabulous, fantabulous, supercalifragelisticexpealidocious, flyy, superfunktastic, enormously talented and tremendously humble bryoneyH (Bryoney for short).

And I think, “This place has continued being my home without me.”

The holidays are always an exercise in diplomacy for me, because I have so many “homes” for my holidays. There’s California, where I made my first adult decision to get the hell out of my mother’s house, and my second adult decision to beg my mother to take me back (real life is hard!). That’s where my aunts and uncle and their families live, and I can’t go there without getting flashes from the memories of the time I spent there. Though I didn’t live there for long, that’s another place that’s filled with memories and people I can always find and food I can only get from there (CRUCIAL ELEMENT FOR CREATING ANY SENSE OF HOME).

There’s North Carolina, where there’s an entire town filled with my cousins, where I spent nearly every summer of my childhood  living on my dad’s dad’s farm learning to cook and pick beans and feed dogs and play dominoes.

There’s Georgia, where I spent my middle school and high school years with friends who have always been my family, during the time in any adolescent girl’s life where it is critical that she spend every waking moment with her best friends or else stay on the phone with them for at least four hours every night while watching TV, painting nails or engaging in the newfangled act of “burning CDs.”

And then I smile when I think about the place where I live now, and how I excited I am to have somewhere else that, rather than being a geographic location, represents the time in my life where I was young and making it and struggling some but laughing through it with more wonderful people who I will plan to visit during the holidays (or whenever).

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