Sunday, July 30, 2017

Home Is Where...

I'm dogsitting this weekend, a few miles away from where I actually live. I do it fairly often for some family friends, and it's a good arrangement. It helps them out, and I am close enough to not have to be super gone from the house, so I can still help and come home from dinner and do whatever else might be necessary.

As I was leaving after late dinner last night to go back to the dogsitting job for the night, I said "ok, I"m going home now."

In the car on the way home, I realized that my concept of home is pretty fluid. More fluid than I even realized. Through the years, I've had all these dreams of places I wanted to live later on down the road. A big part of me loved Chicago SO much and wanted the city life- no need for a car, more activities than you could possibly even attend, all kinds of cultures and restaurants and that amazing vibrancy. I get some of that with Chicagoist and Third Coast.

Some part of me wanted to live deep in the woods, too though. All hidden away, somewhere serene. Maybe by the water.

When I lived in a small town, I was all about knowing everyone in the shops and bar and being a part of a community the way I was. My time in Socorro was fantastic because it was so small. I knew everyone. I knew everyone's kids. I knew when they got dental surgery and who was bringing them soup and taking their kids to the zoo. I knew who I'd face in the pool tourneys on Sundays and I attended unofficial "American Gladiator reboot" viewings with friends at the bar on a slow night.

And ok, obvious statement. To no one's surprise, I want to live in New Mexico again. It stole my heart and my soul and nothing feels as good as the open expanses of the desert, the mountains greeting you every morning, the sage and juniper after the rain, and the feeling of sunshine just sitting on your shoulders, naked and intense. I want that again.

But when I look at it, and the more I explore, the more I see that one of my strengths, and the reason I love travel, is because I can find a life I want almost anywhere. I don't want to move farther north, but when I was in Minneapolis and its suburbs, I could envision the kind of path I'd carve for myself- from weekends in Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka to exploring more of the culture in Minneapolis, and hours and hours at Mia (because it's worth it, so much!)

I love Seattle, and could see myself just as easily somewhere around the sound, taking the ferry in to explore the amazing, laid back world that is Seattle. Seattle is so chill and unique. I love its seaside vibe, I love its "hip but not douchey" feel, and I love its...non city cityness.

And really? Sometimes I lust for a chance to live the IN Chicago life. Since I work for Chicago publications, most everyone I work with lives in the city limits. Different neighborhoods with different flair. I wish for the fluency and confidence with public transportation, the endless venues and concerts and things I could just be at. The chance to always be able to explore every square foot and to really be able to call it my own. I want that excitement, that energy. I want to be able to be home when I'm there sometimes instead of having to go home from there (and not just because the commute sucks.)

When I'm in Door County, I imagine this crazy tourist season and the fun I could have doing something involving it - writing about it, photographing the scenery/activity, but then in the off season, feeling isolated and cozy in a way you only can in a small place like that when winter sets in. Suddenly it's you and the real residents and a winter of solitude in a still-gorgeous place. Maybe you have to plan ahead a little more, but you make it work.

I'm not the world's most confident person, but I think I could make a home most anywhere. I don't like change, and even though I have moved cross country before, I don't think it'd be that much easier changing locale so drastically, but when it comes down to it, one thing I pride myself on is being able to change my definition of home. I feel like home is the people I love, somewhere safe I can curl up at night and come back to and a door I can close to the world when I need to, but other than that? Wherever life takes me, I feel like I can blaze a path and make it my own.

And that gives me hope.

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