I grew up in the same neighborhood for 21 years. It was a little townhouse development outside of Newtown; the kind where every house is a cookie-cutter version of the other. But think low-budget; my parents were (and still are) poor.
The suburbs have a lot of consistencies; neighbors you get to know, kids hopping off the bus at 4pm, that couple who gardens every Saturday – after awhile, it all becomes a sense of comfort. At least for me it did. My favorite consistency was watching the evening sun come through my window, creep through the blinds and flicker on my bedspread. Then some weird dove would make a sad cooing sound from the overgrown bushes in our backyard. I loved it, I don’t know why. It felt warm.
Things got weird around the time I was middle/high school age. Marital problems, financial losses, mental illnesses, bad friendships/relationships, etc. Our house was both physically and figuratively falling apart and we didn’t have the money to fix any of it. I did what I could, but a teenager could only lend out so much money. I remember being 15 telling myself, “I’m working to save money for books in college.” That didn’t happen. (Hello, student loans.)
My senior year of college, after 3 years of community college, I finally lived away from home. I was smack-dab in center city in a considerably large dorm room by myself. I loved it. I loved the freedom, I loved the city, I loved being able to walk anywhere I wanted. I guess I missed home sometimes, but I didn’t miss the chaotic energy that came with it. Being away was very, very good for me. I was broke as heck, but I was managing. I studied, I ate, I slept, I lounged – my little dorm room became somewhat of a “home;” rather, it felt more like home than home really did.
Fast-forward a year; I’ve stormed off to my grandmother’s in hysterics because my father (a depressed, drunk, devout Catholic man) and I got into our worst yelling-match yet. Mommom’s didn’t quite feel like home, but she took care of me and it was a place I could take a hot bath when I was feeling particularly manic. My brother was there, too (he couldn’t handle my dad either, but for slightly different reasons.) Having my brother around helped recreate the homey atmosphere I longed for, but with my grandfather’s mind and health deteriorating, there was still a lot of bad energy going around.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m very sensitive to my surroundings.
Between switching jobs, staying with Tyler, and hunting for apartments with my friends, I didn’t really have a consistent home. “Home is where you make it,” he told me. But I never really made a home out of any place to begin with. It was always the things around me that were home. He was my home. My brother playing music and tapping away at his Mac Book was home. My best friend and I strolling around Newtown and sipping coffee was home. Coming downstairs in the middle of the night and finding my mom drawing on her tablet was home. My dog licking every crevice of my face in the morning was home. The light flitting through my window, the sound of cicadas, they were all the things that calmed me down and made me feel like I was home. The four walls I was in never mattered.
I’m afraid to find a place of my own. Nothing is permanent in your twenties, and that’s both the scariest and most comforting part about adulthood. This year in this apartment, next year somewhere else – it scares me. I thrive upon routine. Nowhere has felt like home for awhile and I don’t know how to make one. All the things that made me feel at home are now scattered. My brother and best friend are still in the suburbs, I had to give away my dog (the saddest decision of my life by far), Tyler is going back upstate for school, the city where I work doesn’t have any comforting sounds – all I have is me. And I don’t know how to make a home out of myself. But I know I need to learn.
I’m not sure what writing this has accomplished, but at the very least maybe you’ve learned a little more about me. Or maybe you can relate. I wish I had some life-changing advice to end this with, but I don’t. Just know that no situation is permanent. And if you’re in limbo like me, remember that even if your homes are far, they’ll still be there when you need a place to stay.