Yesterday I received wonderful news from Yuliya; she and her long-time sweetie had eloped at the Grand Canyon. She asked me if I still missed Atlanta, and I told her, yes, I did. She asked if I would ever move back, and I said, yes, I would, though I'm not sure if I will. I'm not sure where I belong. She responded that once I buy a place in Boston, it will feel like home. I pointed out that I had owned a place in Atlanta and now owned in Boston; neither place had felt like home and both had felt like home. I started thinking about what makes a home.
I went to the gym this morning as I do nearly every day. I had the topical conversations I have every day with the regulars, some of whose names I know, some of whose names I don't know, all of whose lives I am familiar with in every other way. One asked me how much school I had left before the end of the term, another and I talked about Christmas shopping; in the locker room I spoke with a woman about gifts for her son and how her boss was treating her these days.
I showered and dressed, still chatting with others there. I then walked out to the energy drink bar they have at my gym, and plopped myself down. Lana, the lady who makes the drinks, got in for the day and set to making my drink. We talked about her grandkids, and she asked how Eve's pregnancy was going (of course she doesn't know Eve's name, but she knows she's my sister and that she is having a girl). I talked for a while, then walked out to head into work.
On the way in, I once again started thinking about the concept of home. I realized that home isn't a house or where family or friends are; it's where people know you. Services-type people. Small talk people. I'll explain:
When I made up my mind to move from Atlanta back to Boston, a few people warned me that "You can never go home." I thought they were being silly. My parents live in Boston, and I still knew people there. It was home, right?
So I left Atlanta and my job at the CNN Center--a place that holds offices for thousands of people, and a place where I could not go more than ten feet without bumping into people, saying hi, or stopping to chat. The security guards all knew me and would wave and smile as I walked in. The President of CNN would ask me about my Sox when I saw him.
Would I ever call any of these people to go to dinner? Or just to chat? No. That's what makes them special. My analogy here is to a house. The strongest part of a house is the foundation. You never really notice your foundation. You just build on it, designing your house the way you like. You then fill it with what you love. However, without this strong foundation, all of your beloved items and people are not secure or really stable.
Acquaintances and service-providers are this foundation. They are taken for granted. If a piece chips off, it can be replaced with concrete, though will make the house owner nervous for a while. When I moved from the North End, my dry cleaner took me to lunch to say good-bye. I also had numerous parties and dinners thrown and taken to by friends. For some reason, the dry cleaner always stood out to me. I knew my friends would stay in touch and that I would always be able to call them. However, the dry cleaner was strictly tied to the North End; she would never come to Atlanta to visit me as my friends would. It was like moving from a house, taking all my possessions, and leaving a strong foundation I had taken for granted all along.
I lived in New York City for three months while doing an internship in college. I was scared to live there; it was big, loud, and full of way too many people. However, it quickly shrunk as I inadvertantly created a circle. I had the guy I bought my fro-yo from and his daily greeting which always made me laugh ("Hello, Beauty Queen!"), I had the guy I bought my daily mini peppermint patty from ("Got one here waiting for you!"), and the guys who I bought my coffee and bagel from each morning (never a word, just a sesame bagel with cream cheese and coffee ready for me by the time I got to the front of the line). By the middle of the summer, I was calling three places home: Sharon (where I lived full time), Dartmouth, and New York.
I need to go get some work done, but wanted to capture these thoughts. Charlestown is my home for now, but that will probably change. For now, I have my gym, the Warren Tavern (where I just order "the usual"), and the security folks at MITRE. Of course, I have my family right here as well. I always feel like I am home when I am in my parents' house; it's like a community unto itself. Of course, someday I'll convince them to leave it and start a home somewhere where it is warm. =)