How Traveling Gave Me A New Definition Of Home

Why does my mind sometimes attach to the thoughts that my life, my reality, isn’t normal? That because I move so much, I have no home, no community, no attachment? My brain seems dead set on believing that I need to be truly rooted somewhere to call it home. This is why when we travel, we think we’re not “home” because we are relocating constantly. There are no roots. We don’t stand still. But when I quiet my cluttered mind, I find myself believing that home can be anywhere, and that it can change every single day.

Today I am sitting at a bar with my mom on holiday, sipping on a fruity, light-bodied red, listening to a young guitarist smash it at open mic night and staring at a gorgeous waitress in her thirties serving up some perfectly crafted cocktails. You know, the kind with carefully shaped ice cubes, swirly peels of citrus, little sprigs of herbs that were probably picked out back, and perfectly muddled berries. She’s laughing while she works, holding a conversation with an animated guest sitting at the bar. She moves like she doesn’t even have to think, her motions stimulated from muscle memory, completely at ease. I immediately want to know her story. I want to know how long this has been her job. I want to know how long this has been her home. Her life. Where she came from. How she knows nearly every patron in the bar. It’s a beautiful thing, seeing people laugh and connect and practically radiate joy. Seeing people in their home.

It is a beautiful thing. But it doesn’t always feel beautiful when you realize you aren’t part of it.

She calls this place home, because it is home—she has a semblance of routine. She comes to work here most days. She goes to the same nature reserves to hike and relax on her days off. She probably has a favorite coffee shop and bakery. She goes to the same store every week to get her groceries. She knows all of the farmers by name at the Saturday market. She can walk into the library and chit chat with the librarian, and without asking, she’ll probably get recommendations about which new book she just has to read.

She probably has friends stop by “just because” on the weekends, toting homemade scones and a nice bottle of chilled rosé. They’ll chat about the new neighbors, the concert happening next week, even the festival happening next summer. They can do that because they’ll be here several months from now. She can walk her golden retriever down the street and have to stop at least twice every block to greet a passing friend or acquaintance.

Is this what it means to have roots somewhere? Is this what it means to belong? To be home?

I feel light all of a sudden, like at a moment’s notice I could just up and float off the bar stool, bumping along the ceiling like a balloon until I make it to the doorway, and then there I go, off into the blue abyss, rootless and belonging nowhere and to no one. This isn’t my home. I don’t know anyone here, except for the man who gave my mom and I massages earlier and the lovely girl who taught the yoga class I just attended.

I don’t stay in one place for long. I am confused about how to answer when people ask me, “Where’s home?” I don’t have a conventional lifestyle and I work seasonally, so every six months, I pack up my suitcase and off I go. So how do I answer? What is home? Maybe it’s where I grew up. Or is it where I was born? Or maybe it’s the place where I moved right after graduation. Or the place that I’m living in now. Or is it where I’m about to move for my next job?

It seems like every time I sit down somewhere and just want to chat and meet someone, I feel like I have to clarify right at the beginning of every conversation that I’m not from around here. “I’m just visiting.” But there’s so much more to me than that. What about why I’m visiting? What about why I travel and move so much for work?

The truth is, I don’t know the answer. I just know that I’m not ready (will I ever be?) to call someplace a permanent home. There is so much vibrancy out there in the world, so much chaos, so much culture, so much hurt, and so much love. I want to experience it all. So I guess I choose to call myself unattached. I choose not to call someplace home. It is my own decision. But this still doesn’t stop me from being fascinated by how different of an outcome my current life could have if I just stopped moving. It doesn’t stop me from wistfully watching people who are so at home in the places that I visit and live temporarily.

The musician ends his song and is smiling into the microphone as the bar erupts in applause. I take another sip of my wine and melt deeper into the wooden bar stool. Quite suddenly, there is a quiet wave of serenity that washes over me. For a moment, I feel grounded. I am at home in this moment. This is right where I belong. Tomorrow that will change. But tomorrow hasn’t come. And right now, wherever I am, I am home. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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I believe the ocean heals everything, so we need to heal the ocean.

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