January 19, 2010

There's no place like the last place I lived

I know I've posted about this before, but bear with me...

I've spent roughly a third of my life in three places: Arizona, southern Oregon and Massachusetts. Now I've started a new chapter here in California. And I'm still not sure which, if any, of these places is home.

Of all the places I lived, I always said I liked New England the least. So I was mighty surprised to find myself referring to Boston as "back home" recently. It didn't even feel like home when I lived there, so why, after spending a week in Arizona with my mom, chatting with a transplanted Cape Codder, on a shuttle back to my Oakland apartment, was Boston, suddenly, "home"?

Up until September, Boston was the only place I've really lived as an adult. I had my first grown-up job there, rented my first apartment, shacked up with a guy, learned how to cook and knit and unraveled the arcana of library science. I still have a lot of really good friends there.

So does all of that make it home?

When I was in Arizona, the food, the Spanish street names, the astonishing spread of the sky overhead, the adobe houses and javelinas, horned toads and gila monsters: it was all so familiar and somehow right.

But does familiar make it home?

And then there's Oregon. Where I exchanged ardent and anguished love letters with a boy I'd known since seventh grade. The place where I smoked my first cigarette and pierced my nose. Where I wore shitkicker boots and ripped jeans and bewailed the tedium of small-town life in an endless series of coffee shops. The place where my father died.

But does that history make it home?

And what of California? Will it take another ten years, and moving to yet another state, for me to call it home?

I say no, damnit. I will not be writing maudlin blog posts ten years from now about how California never felt like home. I hereby resolve to explore and fully enjoy my new home.

First on my to-do list? Finding good steamed pork buns in Oakland.

What? Everyone has their priorities.


Elinor said...

Maybe New England is home because it makes an oppressive impression. Oh wait, that's my story, as a recovering, transplanted Cape Codder. ;)

Jenny said...

I have several homes. You don't have to have just one. You can have as many as there are. I haven't lived in Southern California since it was the mid-80's and I was just barely 9, but when I go back there I somehow feel like I'm going home.

Montana does not feel like home. That's about it, though. Everywhere else I've lived feels like home. That's what's so great about being a grown-up. We can decide where home is. We can also eat cake for breakfast and have a ball-pit in our house.

Sus said...

I know what you're going through because I have a similar problem. Even though my childhood home is very much "back home" when I go there it is definitely no longer my home. And Columbia has never felt like home. I keep thinking I should try to make it home but I don't like it here and don't want it to be home. And if I let it, I've somehow failed. Oh, it's all very complicated. But I hear you. Oh, how I hear you.

Sarah said...

I hope California feels like home soon. With a whole bunch of friends here on the east coast you can always visit but never have to do any shoveling or own snow boots.

Kim said...

Pork bao in Oakland should be very do-able. Welcome to CA!