woman sits between two white gas pumps

I Am Learning My Home Is Where I Choose To Make It

To my heart and soul without roots,

You grew up in poverty. You had no space to call your own until you were 10. You decorated your room in leftover posters from your siblings and Lisa Frank dolphins. Mismatched and shabby, this space was yours and you were so proud.

Years would pass and you’d hold onto that space like a child grasping a teddy bear at night. To have your own room after years in trailers was a point of pride in your heart. Years would pass and one day you’d grow up. You’d move out. You’d lose that safe space. Friends would turn their backs and roommates would change their minds, leaving you to couch surf and rely on survival instincts. At one point, you even moved all the way across the country to a cold, rainy city to start anew. That didn’t last. Your homesickness got the better of you and you were on a plane home, with a fiance to await you. Desperate for connection and family, you clung to this fantasy as a naive 20-year-old woman would.

The situation ended so despondently, you moved in with a sister. When that welcome was worn out, you moved back to your hometown. Yet another roommate changing their mind, leaving you to find a place to live. With no license and car, your options were so limited. You walked too many late nights across town with cars of men following you, catcalling and worse.

Then, one day, something amazing happened. You got a dream job. You could afford a place of your very own. Decorated yet again in hand me downs and leased furniture, you were home. Then, you met a man. Charming and charismatic, you’d one day marry him and he’d give you a son. Over the years, you created a home together. Yet, time and time again, it was broken by infidelity. The beautiful family only looked lovely on the outside, as you created separate bedrooms and cried yourself to sleep each night you knew he was talking to someone else.

Eventually, you’d have the courage to say “no more” and walk away. You’d look at your baby and know you had to live an authentic life. In your honesty, you came out. It was official. You were gay and had no qualms about it. Weights lifted off your shoulders. You’d create a home with a woman who shared your love of photography and cheesecake and together, she’d love your son as though he were her own. Then, a year in hell happened. You lost your love and your son lost one of the only homes he’d ever known. Long ago, you’d promised your little one he’d know stability and love. “Kids are resilient,” they said. Yet, your heart broke when he spoke of her.

Years would pass. Life would be quiet. You’d get your college degree when you turned 30. You’d be diagnosed with a chronic pain condition. Your child would grow up, little by little. Then, one mundane day, you’d get a message on a dating app from a red-headed woman one state over. You started talking and there were butterflies. Anxious and afraid of loving her, oh, you’d run away. Yet, one day, you were tired of running. All you wanted was to hear her laugh, her smile, and be in her presence every day.

The question of the millennium: Do I move? Am I being selfish? Is following happiness wrong?

So, my dear heart and soul, you find yourself without roots again. Yet you are everywhere. There’s a piece of you at Pikes Peak Market. There’s a piece of you that lingers on a cliff on a mountain in the Deep South. There’s a piece of you where you sit on the beach at midnight and eat cake and listen to the waves. There’s a piece of you in every essay, article, and poem you write. There’s a piece of you in the laugh of your child.

It’s okay to let go now. It’s okay to rest.

Your home will be where you make it, when you make it. The rest is just geography.

Mom, advocate & writer. Creator of Rants of a Virgo, an essay site.

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