Searching for Home

This past week, I made a very rapid, and in many ways emotionally torturous, roundtrip journey to New York. The place I used to call “home.” Along the way, I stayed at a former neighbor’s empty apartment in the building I used to call “home”. I spent a full day at Sloan Kettering, a hospital I’ve even called “home.” And I spent two lovely evenings with friends who will always call New York my “home.”

And then early on Friday morning, as I got into a car to take me back to the airport, the driver, who is from the Dominican Republic but has called New York “home” for almost 10 years, asked where I was going. And when I explained, he responded, “So, you’re going home.” And I had a bit of a slow-moving panic attack that continued as I walked through JFK to run into one of the very same friends I had had dinner with, gave advice to tourists I met on the plane as we headed to Bermuda, and landed to customs officers, welcoming me “home” and a new friend doing the same, as my dog leaped up to greet me. It all made me feel a bit motion sick.

I’m still feeling unnerved today, as I look at this beautiful residence I’ve built and invested so much time, money and effort in, wondering “is this really home?” What is home? Is it a place? A feeling? People? A purpose? A job? In all the songs I searched through as I looked to encapsulate how I was and am feeling, the concept of home didn’t fit because they all seemed to say “home” was a life partner in a place they were returning to. And then I came across this young college student’s poem and thought “Oh No!” I’ll never reach there! It’s not like Ithaka by Cavafy, meaning, “your life’s collection of experiences as you move towards your final destination, wherever that might be… It was entirely FRUITLESS! I’d never find a place, or state of mind where Home exists.

But then this morning, as I once again reread the poem and reflected on my life, its many paths, experiences, places, friends, loves, purposes and roads, I realized how I’d fallen once again into someone else’s definition of Home. A settled state, in some sort of comfortable box. But boxes and settled states had NEVER been at all comfortable to me, my life’s direction had always been towards progress, improvement, future paths, people and places, hopefully leaving behind me a better situation for others and people who would always welcome me again, if we ever met again. My home had always been and would always be the torturous path, people and experiences ahead, behind and around me.

So, if you are like me and struggle to find Home in any one place, like so many others around you do. Ask yourself, like I did. What is Your Definition of Home Really?

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