I was recently asked, "Where is home for you?" and I was stumped. It should be an easy answer. But after a year on the road without a "home" to return to, I didn't have an answer.
A year ago I packed up all of my things and put them into storage in my studio in San Francisco. Since then, I've traveled across the United States and up East Coast, staying in 28 (yes, that's twenty eight, I just counted) different homes. Except for my cabin in Northern Minnesota, none of those places were mine. Without a place to return, without a special someone and having so many homes this past year, my concept of home has shifted.
A few favorites showing of the variety of places I stayed in 2021
Charleston - Richmond - Nashville - Minneapolis - Pittsburgh - Philadelphia - Hudson - Portland
I always thought of home as a physical location, the shelter that you return at the end of the day. Over the years my definition grew to being that place where my loved ones were located and where I knew there would be a loving embrace waiting for me. It was more than a physical shelter, but an emotional one, too.
As I've been traveling this year, alone, with my location in flux, and my car containing all I've needed, those concepts of homes haven't really applied. I don't have a physical location that I'll return to. And I don't have a special someone to return to either.
So here I am thinking... do I not have a home or is there another definition?
If home could also be a feeling, that place where there's a sense of love, peace and contentment, could home also be inside of me? (I completely understand this is going a little woo-woo, but this is where my mind went.)
Can I give myself those things? Not that I'd be a replacement for physical affection or address. But there certainly have been things that I've craved along this journey that has the feeling of home.
You probably have your own list of what feels like home, but here's mine: Light-filled spaces - a freshly brewed beverage with my hands wrapped around the hot mug - a comfortable couch or window seat to write, read and reflect, simple sounds of nature or soft music - a way to connect to loved ones whether it's a phone or computer - food and drink to share - lovely clothes in the closet, nearness and accessibility to the beauty of nature - a creative space with my art tools - smiles and connection with neighbors - snuggly blankets - warm slippers - a dream-inducing pillow and sheets.
These are the things I look to create wherever I land in a new location. I don't rent basement flats because light is important to me. I find places with kitchens so I can make my morning brew and share food and drink with others. I look for locations near nature so I can be surrounded by its beauty. All of these warm my heart and give me a sense of contentment.
There are many times that I get into the car I bought for this year of travel and think of her as a "turtle". She's far from slow, but she's my armor and carries all I need under her roof; clothes, computer, phone, and my traveling art studio. All of the rest of the things that make me content can come from anyplace I land.
So for now, as I'm traveling solo and maybe long afterwards too, I'll carry home along with me. I'll have to work on the quick answer for someone asking, "Where's home?" out of politeness, but I'll keep working to create the feeling of home wherever I go.