YOU ARE HOME
33.7701° N, 118.1937° W
“Do you ever stop to think about it, Texas?” Bob asked. “Out of all the places you could have been, you ended up here.”
Bob was talking about Polly’s, the small local coffee shop on 2nd street in Long Beach, California, that we both frequented. At the time I was three months into my first job and wondering if it was possible for me to make a life in the state after college. After four years, it still didn’t feel like home, but neither did the town I grew up in. I didn’t feel as settled as I believed I should feel at that point in my life.
I have been sorting through the emotions of calling two different states home for five years. It feels out of date to think of my hometown as my home when I only spend two or three weeks of the year in Texas now. Yet I feel as though I am betraying someone when I refer to California as home when I am visiting Amarillo. It feels wrong to say that I am visiting the place I grew up.
I’m hoping home means something beyond a zip code.
We long to find the people and places that will hold a sense of familiarity and comfort when the world around us doesn’t make sense. We can hold our independence to the utmost value and still find ourselves seeking out a tribe to belong to, however small that may be. We want to belong to someone. We want to find our home and our place in the millions of cities and faces this world offers us. We want to belong.
Maybe it’s not home I’m looking for but belonging. It’s the same feeling, isn’t it?
Belonging. The simple word stirs complex emotions in each of us; it is sweet and savory when we feel in the midst of it, and cruel when we feel we are wandering on the outskirts of it. We search for it in our homes, our careers, our futures and our communities. When we are old enough we go out in the world and search relentlessly for it.
We are desperate to find the people and places that will hold a sense of familiarity and comfort when the world around us doesn’t make sense. We can hold our independence to the utmost value and still find ourselves seeking out a tribe to belong to, however small that may be. We want to belong to someone. We want to find our home and our place in the millions of cities and faces this world offers up us. We want to belong.
I am home when I am standing in front of the Pacific Ocean and in the midst of the infamous Texas Panhandle winds. Every Sunday morning I find home within the walls in a middle school auditorium.
Home should be a place that encourages you to grow, and the kindness that radiates out of the people I have met in Long Beach makes me want to become a better person.
It felt like Bob, a lifetime Long Beach resident, officially invited me to call Polly’s, and by extension, Long Beach, home. It might not be my forever home. But it will be a place where I will leave a piece of myself to return to when it’s time to move to another place.