and grow old wanting to get back to.”
–John Ed Pearce
I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about home and the concept of home. Dan and I have lived “away from home” for over a year now and have made our own new home here. We also had our old home back home, where another of his homes was, just a couple of hours away from my other home. There are lots of homes going on here, and all of them are.
Dan and I had very different upbringings and have different ideas about home. It has been interesting to discover these points of view from one another over the years, always comparing thoughts whenever relevant points were brought up in conversation. He was raised a military kid, moving multiple times before settling during elementary school, followed by multiple moves between houses within town. I was quite the opposite…
The house my parents took me to after I was born is the same home they live in to this day. My room was always my room; my view of the back yard was always my view. I know every inch of that house and would be devastated if anything ever happened to it. It will always be my home for the rest of my life. And it’s not even just the house I’m attached to; it’s the property, the entire farm… the pond down the dirt road; the old tobacco barn at the edge of the field; the back porch that I wish I were sitting on right now.
Sometimes, home is just where your things currently are and where you go at the end of the day. I have had a lot of those homes over the past ten years: two dorm rooms at my first college; a house I rented a room in for three semesters; a too-large apartment that taught me the true definition of loneliness; an apartment way too far away from school (but that I thought was perfectly close to Dan’s); a freezing cold dorm room in NYC in the West Village; Dan and I’s first townhome together in Salem (Roanoke); and of course our two apartments here in California. Each time I have loved my little temporary home and each time I have struggled with defining my feelings about where I currently was. Could I blame this on the fact that I spent the first 18 years of my life happily in one place? Possibly. But I think something else is to blame here.
I think that I truly thought I would always go home… like, back home. Not that I would move back in with my parents and live a true life “Full House” existence, but I think that it was always in my head that I would end up back in my hometown at some point, within minutes of where I grew up. From where did that notion come?
All I ever wanted when I was a teenager was to get out of there. I had it all planned out in my head; a few years away at school, a few years living the dream in New York, and then somehow, somewhere in there, I’d end up picking back up where I left off, having family lunches every Sunday and driving nearly an hour to the closest Target. And I have no idea where that mystery job would have been… an hour away, maybe, if I was lucky? Was I serious? Did I really never think it through?
The first time I recognized that I even had these thoughts was when Dan and I were living in our cute little townhome in Salem. I was working, coming home, eat, sleep, repeat… then it hit me; I had never chosen to really live there. I was near there for school, and then we got married, I got my first job… and I woke up and realized that that hadn’t been the plan. What happened to New York, other than my short stint at Parsons? Where did we go from there? Would I go anywhere from there? Had I settled in the giant, sprawling, dazzling Roanoke metropolitan area without even realizing it had happened? (Please look up the population of Roanoke if you think I’m serious for even a second.) Not that there’s anything wrong with Roanoke (I absolutely adore it! and miss it!) but what was I going to do in Roanoke? Hello, unemployment. (Uh… been there, done that.)
And then, how the heck did I end up all the way in California!? Sheesh!
I feel that these thoughts have been magnified tenfold because of the distance (2,570 miles, to be exact) and because I have never been so removed from my family and friends before. There are no weekend trips to the farm, no spur-of-the-moment dinners at a half-way point. (That would be somewhere around Oklahoma City, by the way, and no thanks.) I have been working with coming to terms that I will never truly go home again over these past few years, and I’ve accepted that I truly have no idea where we’ll end up next. Just how I never saw California coming and that happened, I’m just not even going to try planning out my life like that anymore. What was 15 year old Emily thinking!? She was such a control freak.
I love where we are right now and we are having an incredible time living in California. I just also know that our time here is temporary, and being the planner I’ve always been, I’m always looking to the future and wondering what our next steps might be. And even though I’m not planning our next steps (yet) it’s still fun to dream, right? Every day I tell myself to enjoy living my life in the present and not to worry about where I might be and where I might not be in the future. Instead, I will try my best to focus on where my heart is right now.