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.