At this time last year, I was at a conference, wondering about the "weird little stomach flu" I picked up. That "flu" is currently sleeping in the crib next to my bed. And I am profoundly grateful for that.
We went back to Tallahassee this weekend. These trips tend to be disorienting for me. How can so many places feel like home? On the surface, it seems like a good problem to have, but it leaves me feeling unsettled. In fact, as I was typing these words, I realized that I recognized this feeling too intimately. After my parents divorced, I spent many years not always knowing where I would spend the night. Dad's house? Mom's house? Maternal grandparents? Step-family's farm? I had a large bag that was packed with a few days worth of clothes and toiletries and that bag was home.
I've always been a bit of a gypsy, and I've always loved to travel. But packing a suitcase to travel is not the same as packing one to float between other people's guest beds or floors and a big part of me longed to make my own home. After two years of dorm living, and a scary old apartment, I bought a home at age 21, anxious to feel centered, rooted. It was cheap, and a bit scary, and more than a little broken, but it was mine.
Only problem is that I shared it with a boy that was also cheap and a little broken and I got to the point that I wanted to leave the home because he was in it. And so I did. I sold it to him and moved to the first floor of a large old home. And it was sunny and sweet. I bought new furniture and plates. And I was given a cat. And then found another. And I would sit on a wooden porch swing on the front porch, and love yet another cat who roamed the neighborhood. I liked that apartment. It was all mine, and I would snuggle to sleep in a canopy bed with a gray cat who would drool on me all night and a little black kitten who was a runt and almost blind.
Things were good until the house was sold to a new landlord. And suddenly, as he made too many bad changes, it was no longer home. Restless in my job, I moved again, this time two hours away. I found myself in a bad job in which I often feared for my life. And while I still think about my sweet rental townhouse there, I didn't stay long.
I moved back into my old home and with the old boy. The house was a wreck, and so was I. But then I got an amazing job and some great friends and my world burst open like a cherry blossom in spring. "Home" was no longer a building, but a city. With each late night in my office watching the sun set over the skyline, with each wine tasting, with each gallery opening, I was cultivating home. My friends were home. My family was home.
And then I got married to that boy. And then he wanted to move to Florida. And I wanted to stay, but I didn't. I left those friends and that job. And I cried, because I lost home again.
And during those first six months in Florida, I cried more. Because although we bought a sweet little house, I didn't feel home. Not in my new city. Not in my new job. Not in my new marriage.
Ironically, it was on our one-year anniversary, when we were "home" for the holidays, that my body became a home for another. And I got a new job. And I got new friends. I explored my new city. And I had a sweet baby. And we spent seven years in the little city, making a life.
But then the boy had to go on internship, and he needed to move. I thought about staying again, but this was to a major metropolitan area. A place of plentiful jobs for the boy after he finished his internship. So I moved. And the first six months were hard, again. But then I got a new job, and I worked real hard, and I got new friends, and we started building a life again. One complete with a pool in the backyard. But then, well, the hubby didn't seem to find any local jobs. And he found a great post-doc far away. And he reminded me that I didn't even like that new city when we first moved there, so why not move again?
And by that time, my body was home to another. I tried to find a way to stay just a bit longer, you see, because there were things that I wanted to finish. I wasn't ready to leave. But I couldn't figure out a way to make it fair to my little boy, and so we moved. To a decent town and a decent house and a decent school for my boy. And now I have a job- it's little, but interesting.
Today my old boss posted an award on Facebook. A prestigious recognition for a project that I spent months putting together before leaving my last home. I didn't get to stay to see it through to the end, but I poured a lot of time and effort into getting it put together. And once again I get to see evidence of my career cut short, my life interrupted. I feel like Sisyphus pushing the boulder, only to find myself having to start over as I get close to the top.
And that "great job" that we moved here for ends this summer. And the promise of a position after has now dissolved. The optimistic outlook of just a few weeks ago for two local jobs for the husband has dissolved, and I'm left to wonder if it's ever going to be possible for me to find a home.
I wasn't going to write this, actually. I just came to post two songs to capture how I am feeling. So I'm going to do that, and try to sleep to dream of home. Wherever that is.
And my anthem: