Home is the Last Place You Dropped Your Luggage.
I think I’ve figured out what my problem is.
At least part of it.
And it’s so painfully obvious, I can’t believe I’m only just now coming to this realization over my morning coffee as the pups gnaw away on their bones.
Because this is something that’s been gnawing on my bones for over a year. Probably longer. And it’s really not until we get down to the marrow of things that my issues become clear.
It’s not this place I have a problem with.
Well I do, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that I’ve been in this place too long. See, until this place, I hadn’t lived in any one place for more than 2 years for the past 10 years. Even if I stayed in the same town, I at least changed residences. Sometimes the moves have been circumstantial. Sometimes just because I wanted change. Sometimes because the military made me, once I got married. Sometimes because adventure awaited.
Then, when we moved to North Carolina, we knew we were going to be here for at least 4 years — a certainty that’s rare in military life. So we thought we’d take advantage by buying a small home. A chance to feel a sense of permanence. Of belonging to a community and calling it “home,” rather than simply a place to rest.
It never occurred to me that I might be bad at it –
That 4 years could pass, I’d open my eyes and realize I’d never even tried. That I don’t know this place like I should. I don’t know the people.
Instead, I was counting down. Wasting 4 years because I wanted to be somewhere else.
I wanted to move, people! To me, the world becomes alive when we’re forced to change scenes and meet new characters. Explore different radio stations. Get lost on unknown streets. Discover hidden coffee houses and cafes and consignment shops. Become a stranger in a bar.
It’s no secret that I love to travel. And moving is just travel with everything you own. Which isn’t much, when you move frequently.
But now I have all this stuff. This stuff I’ve been accumulating for 4 years and I think that every thing that we buy also takes up residence inside my head — a bit of retail space otherwise reserved for calmness and peace gets replaced with “There’s a sale at Bath and Bodyworks?” and “Will I ever be able to find a window treatment to fully cover that bedroom window?”
And now, I’m told, we will be here a while longer. Two years, maybe a lifetime.
And I know now that I can’t do what I did before. Before I was just telling myself — consoling myself — saying, Don’t worry. You’re still young. You still have plenty of time to figure things out.
And then I blinked.
And I realized…
And now I really don’t have plenty of time.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should probably try blinking.
Or not, because then you might realize how much time has passed. How many birthdays you’ve experienced here with really no one to celebrate. How many people you spent time not getting to know. How many southern vinegar barbecue places you haven’t discovered and how many times you haven’t experienced the foreign taste of the word y’all on your tongue.
There were things to do and see, but in your head, you had already moved on. To someplace better, you thought. A quaint seaside village in California. A Mountain town in Colorado. A northeastern city with ethnic restaurants and fall leaves and lobster rolls.
But that’s no guarantee.
And it hits you, all backhanded and rough, maybe with rings on the knuckles with pointy prongs and solid gemstones, that it’s no guarantee. That the next place might not be “home,” either.
And then what?
You’ll let another 2 years pass unnoticed?
Enough. I’ve finally figured out that if home is only where the heart is, we might not ever get there. And that, to me, is unacceptable.
Home is where I make it.
This place has things to offer. I just need to find them.
How about you? Whether you’ve lived somewhere 10 months or 10 years, how do you go about keeping the place interesting?