1) one’s place of residence domicile
2 the social unit formed by a family living together
3a a familiar or usual setting : congenial environment; also :the focus of one’s domestic attention <home is where the heart is>
4 a a place of origin <salmon returning to their home to spawn>; also : one’s own country <having troubles at home and abroad>
I posted these definitions of home (courtesy of m-w.com) to start this blog entry to remind myself of all the different ways people use this at times nebulous word. When we are little I think home is that first definition, the most literal sense of the word(four walls, the ceiling, the roof, etc.), but as we age that definition definitely molds to our growing understanding of our lives and how we see ourselves in the relation to the world and where we are in it. New York was my home for the first 22 years of my life, more specifically Rockland County in our family home in West Nyack. Even while I was away at Amherst College in Massachusetts, I was always going ‘home’ for the holidays or for the summer. The bulk of my time was spent in Massachusetts in those four years, but the lack of permanence kept it from ever becoming an actual home. After college, I moved to Austin. For the first two years, New York was still my home, but when I made the decision after Americorps to stay in Austin and become a teacher, for the first time in my life, some place other than New York started to become ‘home’. Even though I moved several times in my first years in Austin, I think definition 3a started to form my personal definition of home as Austin became that ‘congenial environment or familiar setting’ and I made my friends and set my roots down. Then I met Ana in Austin. Very quickly my definition of home became closest to 2 because I am home wherever she is. 🙂 With that opening rambling about home, it is with that in mind that I write about our current surreal experience:
We are packed up and officially living out of suitcases for the next SIX WEEKS. I will admit to this being a very bizarre feeling for me. The longest vacation my wife and I have ever been on was our honeymoon, which was about 2 ½ weeks, so this is the longest we have ever been on the move and living out of luggage. However, there is something more affecting this time and it is simply this…for the first time in my life, I don’t know where I will put these bags down. Obviously our final destination is Singapore, but when we first get to Singapore, the school actually puts us up in a hotel for a week while we go apartment hunting with our real estate agent we have been in contact with. While I am sure this will be a wild and exciting adventure, this is the first time in my life that I didn’t know where I was going to be calling home before heading there. Even when I moved to Austin 8 years ago, by the time I had moved, I had already found an apartment and roommates from the program I was going down there to join.
The other issue with the current nomadic experience (and this is the only true option despite my good friend Russell’s advice to just take a card board box and set up home anywhere we go!), is that we are constantly staying with friends and family. Now they would never call it an imposition, but taking over somebody’s space and sharing their home is asking a lot of anybody. It is also means Ana and I, who have been living together roommate free for almost 4 years now, are never really alone for a month and a half. You take for granted making a home with somebody. Quiet dinners, talks, watching our TV (sometimes together, or sometimes sports for me and Real House Wives of some rich absurd area of America for her), and just relaxing alone in a place just we share.
This whirlwind tour takes us from Austin to Fredericksburg to Fort Lauderdale to New York back to Austin and finally the long flight to Singapore. I want to thank all the friends and family who have/will put us up over this crazy 6-week trek. Your open arms and hearts have certainly made a temporary home in each place Ana and I have stayed or will stay. We are very lucky to have had made the friends we have and even luckier to have the awesome family we do!
I noticed that I left out the final definition of home that I posted because until recently the thought of the United States not being my home was not a conceivable one. But as I sit here and write this now, I can’t help but wonder if one day Singapore (or maybe another yet unexplored country!) will be my Austin and the United States my New York. I don’t know if that definition will ever change, but as long as I have Ana, I know that I am ‘home’ wherever WE are, and that is a comforting thought 🙂