Home… What a concept for contemplation, and one that is particularly highlighted when traveling. If you look up the definition for ‘home,’ you will find thirty-one different options, not counting the sub-headings; for example, just in relation to nautical adverbs for home, there are three different definitions, “into the position desired; perfectly or to the greatest possible extent: sails sheeted home,” being one of my personal favorites. But the home I’m talking about is the first and most familiar definition: “a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.”
Having moved out of my apartment in the first half of May, I haven’t had a place of my own since then. At the end of August, I realized that there was only one place in the last few months, that I had spent two weeks or more, and it only happened once. As we’re approaching six months since I’ve moved out, I’ve estimated that most of the time I stay in a place for about 2-5 nights, with only the very occasional 7-10; and by magic, kindness, and generosity, I stayed in one place for almost a month in October. I think, by definition, I might be considered "home-less," but I often feel it is quite the contrary.
In August, I spent 10 days traveling through Montana and Wyoming, staying in 9 different places over that time. Going through Yellowstone and the Tetons, my Mountain-time-zone-travel-partner, aka the French man, and I referred to ‘home’ when we were talking about going back to our camp/tents for the night; ‘home’ changed every night, but it was consistently wherever my tent was. As we were driving back to Oregon, I started contemplating the phrase “home is where the heart is,” and it shifted my whole perspective on the matter. Despite the lack of actually having an established home there, I felt like returning to Oregon was “going home,” due to the fact that the state had stolen my heart the very first time I had crossed the border.
Days after returning to Oregon, I was again on the road and found myself discussing “going home” with my co-pilot as we drove back to my Reno home. Different from the love I have for Oregon, Reno is home because it’s where I grew up, for the most part; it’s my historical home, and home to many friends, family, and memories, therefore it will always have a piece of my heart. At least half of that two week visit to Reno was spent in Tahoe, undoubtedly a place where a big piece of my heart will always be, for to this day, I have yet to find another lake/mountain range combination that could compare to the stunning beauty and alpine playground of Tahoe - I LOVE that place. And yet, there is still another place, Montreal, QC, that always feels a bit like home when I visit; though I’ve never actually lived there, the largest portion of my family lives there and it has been the most consistent ‘home’ place throughout my entire life. If home is where the heart is, than for me, home is in Oregon, Reno, Tahoe, and Montreal.
Or is it that, “home is wherever I’m with you?” For so many people that phrase rings true too. When I was lying on the rocks in Tahoe, watching the clouds roll by, I remembered doing the same with my sister when we lived together; through my memories, I revisited all of the places we’ve been together, and I realized that home is wherever I’m with her. Similarly, the family that took me in when I was truly without a place in Oregon, made me feel so at home despite feeling overwhelmingly lost and confused. Sometimes even just a phone conversation or video chat is enough to make you feel like you've visited home, despite where your journey has taken you. I have some incredible friends and family members, who have a magical way of making me feel "at home" in new, unusual, or unexpected places. I’ve felt at home in places like a rented cabin, a long road-trip, the emergency room, the Seattle area, the many lakes in Quebec, the deserted beaches of North Carolina, the streets of downtown Chicago, and so on, because home is wherever I’m with you, and you, and you, and you…
In Seattle and again in Bellingham, once I settled in and switched on my computer, I was immediately connected to the wi-fi network my computer remembered from last time, and I laughed that perhaps, in this modern, technology-driven age, “home is wherever you can automatically sign on.”
Some people may call it, by definition, "homeless," some might think it’s just being fickle, and some may say it’s just the way of a gypsy... I prefer to think that my home (and my heart) is just really big. With changes always in motion and the new year just beyond the horizon, I know that my situation and plans are continually evolving, but as I work towards the future, I have a feeling that I might not have quite the traditional, single home.
I'm trying to develop a location-independent career and lifestyle, aiming to create something like home-bases from whence I can launch myself to my many home-places; since I personally think there's a magical corridor that runs between the 101 and I-5 throughout Oregon and Washington, that entire corridor (or at least a few main bases throughout that corridor) may end up being my primary "home."
So perhaps I will start subscribing to the seventeenth definition of home, “deep; to the heart,” because if home is where the heart is, than I have many homes, and if home is wherever I’m with you, then I have even more.
Stories from the road-trip that inspired moving to the PNW, and other travel adventures.