How do you unlock the feeling of a home away from home?
In today’s age of internet dating turned long-distance dating, turned forever-and-ever-amen, I have one very big and very practical question – where the hell do you live once you’re married? No, seriously.
How do you choose?
When you meet someone from your hometown and get married, there’s no decision, we’ll live HERE of course!
But what if you didn’t have the luxury (or curse – you choose), of marrying your high-school flame and staying in the same old town?
Ryan and I didn’t meet on the internet – we met in a dive bar in Florida (the unexpected love story). He’s from upstate NY, and I’m from outside Toronto – 400 miles apart.
When we decided to get married we said to each other, “Okay, so who’s moving?”
I was new to a job that I didn’t care much, and was making diddly and Ryan was marginally more established, so I said, “I’ll move to NY then.” And did just that.
It sucked so bad.
Real talk here guys – it was one of the most emotionally overwhelming times of my life.
Adjusting to cohabitating, being married, leaving home for the first time, no ability to pay my bills, and a husband who commuted for 5 hours a day to NYC (I wish I was kidding).
I like to blame US immigration first – because I wasn’t allowed to work or leave the country for 6 months. Think about that for a second. I also could have just bucked the fuck up and adulted. It took time, and a lot of patience (thanks, Ry!) but I was spit out the other end and mostly stuck the landing.
I went from self-sufficient paying my own damn way to being 100% dependent on someone else. Also, I couldn’t leave to go visit my family and friends in Canada, couldn’t continue my career and had basically nothing to do but sit home and eat bonbons (actually, I mostly ate peanut M&Ms).
I had NOTHING to do but have Rachel Ray teach me how to cook, get a dog (miss you Wesley-roo!) and walk him for six hours a day, and fill the rest of the time at the gym, and cleaning up surprise piles of dog poop. Sidenote – now that I’m older I can think of a gazillion things I’d do with all that free time now.
While spending what little extra cash we had (or didn’t) on new placemats and candles trying to create that feeling of hominess, the biggest problem was that it never actually felt like MY HOME.
A few months later, Ry had a job opportunity in Indianapolis, I still wasn’t allowed to work, and the cost of living difference between NY and Indy was the difference between Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks – so we moved.
Then we kept moving – to a new place in Indy, to a high-rise in Chicago, then a Chicago beach condo, then Canada, then Chicago, now somewhere south of Chicago that no one has ever heard of, and when people ask me why I moved there, I tell them, “I have no fucking idea – ask my realtor”.
Why all the moving? Part job, part opportunities, part wanting to be near family, part why the hell not?
But all – searching.
I keep feeling like I’m living in someone else’s house and the rightful owners are going to come home any second and send me packing.
Searching for something we both won’t find while living somewhere other than where we grew up.
After our big summer road trip a few weeks ago - Poughkeepsie, Boston, Toronto - I noticed something.
In NY, Ry was different. He was ease. He was calmer, in his element – a familiar space.
I recognized it in him after I recognized it in myself a week later while rolling into my dad’s driveway.
I felt at peace, I knew where everything was – a lot has changed, sure – there are new strip malls being built every day, but it feels comfortable, real, easy.
Awesome – so we can both feel at “home” but only 400 miles away from each other.
So what are we to do?
I don’t know. I don’t have the answer. I knew something was wrong when we were nearing the end of our road trip and I was crying in the car a few blocks from home and couldn’t exactly pinpoint why. It’s not home, it all feels so temporary – I thought.
Because up until now it has felt temporary – we’ve moved 8 times in the 12 years we’ve been married. Also, the idea of a “forever home” makes me want to run away. But what exactly am I running from? I don’t ever want to buy a house that I plan on spending the next 25 years in. More like 2.5 (and time’s creeping up on expiring on our current location! Where should we go next?).
Because I didn’t feel at home in NY, and Ry didn’t feel at home in Canada, we’ve been trying to create a feeling somewhere else that just won’t exist. You can’t create that feeling of “I’ve been here forever,” if you haven’t. Someone is always compromising.
Home is where the heart is. Home is where your family is.
Blah, blah – cliché, I know.
These are all wonderful sayings, and I love our property (until something breaks, then I'm ready to throw my hands up in the air and move), and look forward to kissing the kids’ heads before bed every night no matter where we are, but…
Will I ever feel the same way about living somewhere as I do at “home” (the place I grew up)? Or is this just part of the plan and I’m lucky enough to just keep looking? I do feel very fortunate that we have the ability to can pick up and live almost anywhere we want – thanks, Internet!
Will all this moving make the kids want to be nomads someday?
Will they wish things were different?
"If I am never sure where I am meant to be, I just look at my feet and there I am" – Vicki McLeod in her book, #untrending
For now, I’m going to focus on making wherever home is, feel like home, remembering where my feet are is where I am, and making sure my kids feel at home with me – it’s all I can do.
PS - you might also like, less space = less stuff = more life, even less stuff = even less space = even more life and 3 simple love notes that changed my life forever.