Not having a home is emotionally exhausting.
And after having been on the road since February, I’m feeling it.
Yes, I was in Paris for a long time, but the traveler in me couldn’t make it my own home beyond buying myself a comfy pillow. I was still unsure. I was still seeing about Christophe. Stay tuned on that one.
(The world waits with eager anticipation.)
Rather than settle down to one place on my travels, I decided to set my bags down in many places I once called home and soak up rejuvenating energy.
First stop was my sister’s house where I have my own bedroom in the basement. Then my mom’s house, where I technically still live according to the address on my passport and voting card. I slept a few nights in my old bedroom surrounded by yearbooks and photos of my youth.
I hopped a flight to Los Angeles and spent my days at one friend’s house where I lived on her couch one summer. And spent my nights at another friend’s house who bought my bed when I left, so I was able to sleep in my old bed. I stopped by my old apartment for tea with my friend who is now living there. Same bones. Different tchotchkes.
Then I zipped up to Carmel and Big Sur for a retreat. When there, I was able to revisit hotels I stayed at in my dozen years of California living. One of my favorites is the Gorda Inn. Just off Highway 1. Looks like an old western hotel. The second floor gives full ocean views, perfect for whale watching and daydreaming. It’s on my list of places to haunt when I die. Do you have a list of haunt-worthy places, dear reader?
And now I’m back above the border and writing from my uncle’s house in Toronto, where I lived a few summers ago doing a freelance gig. It’s nice to have them make me coffee and toast in the mornings. The cousins are out of the house so my bedroom is surrounded by diplomas and trophies of their youth.
In all of these places, little habits have resurfaced. I still look on top of the microwave for my mail because that’s where they’d set my pile. I scrounge around the back of the cupboard for my favorite mug, which is thankfully still there. I even received a new Restoration Hardware catalog with my name on it at one of my old addresses. Of course, nothing in that catalog will fit in my one suitcase but it was nice to see my name and old address on the cover.
|My favorite mug at my uncle and aunt’s house in Toronto.|
I toggled between saying big hellos to some friends and saying silent goodbyes to others. When you go away, you just can’t keep them all. Thankfully time takes care of the awkward reality of tough and possibly hurtful choices. Silence can be a salve if we let it. And there are some friends I couldn’t see because my time was limited. How I yearned to go for dinner with so-and-so or for a bike ride with so-and-so. Instead, they found out I was in LA through a tag by another friend on Facebook, then they were confused as to my whereabouts. I thought we’d have time to visit.
I have a friend who, if I email to say I will be in town on a certain day, will only respond to my email the day after I’ve left. At first, I was confused by this behavior and feeling a little bruised. Now I understand. We just can’t see everyone all the time, no matter how much we wish we could. And then there are some that you haven’t seen in so long that you want to jump into their pockets and stay all day, all year, forever.
Sentimentality also required another visit on this whirlwind tour of North America. To be so attached to the people, places and things of the life I left can put an uncomfortable squeeze on my new life of new people, places and things. How can I roam around Paris and BE in Paris when I’m lamenting about what to do with my couch left in LA or feeling guilty about not keeping in touch more often with friends?
Last year, I culled my physical possessions down to one suitcase. This year, I’m taking a deeper swipe at the sentimentals I wasn’t ready to release back then. Revisiting all my homes has helped me feel confident in taking a solid step back from the past and toward the next step in my nomadic journey.