I am a bit of a homebody. I love being home. Compare this to my recent blog post where I confessed to having the heart of a wanderer, and I realize we are all full of contradictions and juxtapositions.
Anyway, I do love being home. I love to curl up with a good book and a mug of hot tea. I love a day off and spending the day at home. I might leisurely drink coffee on the patio or in the chair near the patio door window. I might go for a run or a hike and then come home to take a hot shower and dress in cozy clothes and write an essay and then spend part of the day in the kitchen simmering some kind of soup or roasting a chicken and making a batch of hummus. I might drink a glass of wine and then curl up on the couch with a book while I wait for the cooking to be finished. I might ask a friend over for dinner, making it a good excuse to make sure my home is picked up and cleaned up. The friend comes over and we spend a long evening chatting, drinking wine or not, eating bowls of soup. That is one of my favorite ways to spend an evening, at home, with someone who feels like home.
My mom told me that when I was little, I didn’t really like other people beyond my mom, dad, two sisters, and my grandparents. I liked to be home and I didn’t like to be “messed with” as she puts it. Funnily enough, I am still the same. I like to be quiet and cozy and I have a few close friends and not a huge social circle. Those people whom I’m close to provide another sense of home.
When I left for college, I wanted to expand my horizons and to find a new home. I left New Mexico for water and winter up on Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. When I was there, I found the term “sense of place” and I understood what it meant. I found a new home and one that was of my making: finding friends and finding myself in that lovely and lively time of college. I discovered canoeing and kayaking and cross country skiing and yet I still missed the high desert and the foothills and the mountains of New Mexico. I loved the sparse beauty of long winters and the immensity of Lake Superior and its cold waves in all seasons.
After college, I spent a few years in the Twin Cities and never felt a sense of home there, although I’m glad I got to experience Saint Paul. It’s a city that I now love, but in my time there, I struggled and missed feeling a sense of home. On a whim, which was really going to be a trip home to visit family before returning to the Twin Cities for grad school, I decided to move to Colorado. I visited family in New Mexico and Colorado and the economy in Colorado proved to be a stronger fit for a job. I stayed in Colorado for a long time and enjoyed being back in the West. I love lonely roads and finding green in a sea of muted brown landscape and the dry heat of summer.
It was later that I realized that I had a hole in my heart for my missed home of New Mexico. I finally made my way back to New Mexico, this time to Albuquerque a few years ago and as soon as I returned it felt like I could breathe more deeply. Something clicked. It didn’t have as much to do with proximity to friends or family, this was an instinctual, deep in my soul, connection.
In the last few years, even a bit before moving back to New Mexico, I have done some spiritual work, a remodeling of my insides if you will. In that work, I found self-love and I found that I never was broken, but that I needed to do some healing, even from my own self-inflicted spiritual wounds. Maybe it helped to finish that healing in New Mexico, where I felt home, even when professional and economic conditions weren’t necessarily that rosy for me.
I think New Mexico will always be home, but I’m coming to learn that my sense of home may be more transportable. I am so comfortable with myself, a hard-won and relished feeling, that I kind of know now that I can be home anywhere. I realized that I can find that home hiking with a backpack on a trail or in a van wandering across the backroads of the U.S. or flying abroad to teach and seeing a new corner of the world.
Home can be lots of things. It can be a good conversation with a stranger or in the cheerful “have a good night” from the bus driver. Home is the smell of soup on the stove or breakfast sizzling in a cast iron skillet. Home is in connection. Home is cheering on a social media friend as she embarks upon a new journey. Home is talking to my mother. Home is a deep kiss when that certain person walks through the front door. Home is a phone call from a good friend at 5 am, because that’s when we could coordinate free moments and time zones. Home is texting with my two sisters. Home is forgiveness. Home is finally being at home with myself. Home is taking on new challenges, because I now have that internal sense of home. Home is making peace. Home is moving somewhere new and making a new home. Home is giving directions to someone who is lost. Home is getting lost in a new adventure. Home is traveling. Home is trying something new. Home is what we make it. Home is passion. Home is navigating new waters. Home is creativity. Home is self-directed. Home is being comfortable with oneself no matter what. Home is a cup of tea. Home is.