Home is where...
“Have a safe trip home!“
A Wednesday night in the Outer Banks of North Carolina meant an unlimited seafood buffet with the purchase of a drink at one of Corolla’s hometown bars. Since I arrived 10 days ago, I had been spending each weekday the same way: Wake up to work on personal writing projects, work my full-time job until 6 p.m., then find something to do with the remaining hours of the day. Sometimes I would fire up the computer again to get some more writing done. On this particular night, however, I met Dad and his wife, Marcy, at Uncle Ike’s for a few plates of seafood, some beer, and casual conversation.
I had been introduced to a local woman as Lee’s daughter who was visiting from Spain. When the time came for the three of us to head back to our respective beach houses, the woman told me to have a safe trip home. Home, I thought. What is home?
I saw a major loss in 2016 when my dad sold the childhood home where I had spent the majority of my life from birth until my freshman year of college. It was a heavy goodbye, as most of the memories from within those walls involved my late mother. My two sisters and I grew up in the two-story house in Richmond, Virginia, with a rotating duo of dogs. We played, imagined, cried, cuddled, baked, sang, and danced in that house, but after 31 years, the time had come to let it go. After all, I convinced myself that it was just a building. Just a few walls and a roof and yard. Home isn’t a building; home is a feeling.
Family home, Richmond, Virginia.
Each time my plane lands at Barcelona’s El Prat Airport, I feel that feeling, a sense of familiarity, comfort, knowledge that is lost on visitors. I immediately unpack, settle into my attic studio apartment in El Born, and let out a sigh, simultaneously anticipating returning to my daily grind. As much as I love an unexpected adventure, I thrive on routine.
I have had two other such “homes“ in my adult life--Washington, D.C., and Phnom Penh, Cambodia--the former of which will occupy space in my heart forever. But the thought of losing our house in Richmond left me with a sudden sensation of homelessness. My dad and Marcy would move to one of our family’s beach houses Outer Banks, another location that harbors familial memories and years of stories. But that Richmond house had been my stability, my one constant in my ever-changing, tumultuous, and unpredictable adult life. To date, it’s the longest relationship I have ever had to let go.
Barcelona from my balcony; the Mediterranean Sea.
Even though I have settled in Spain for the time being, my life in Barcelona has felt anything but settled. I have moved within the city twice, taken on freelance jobs, watched close friends go and new friends come. But perhaps this wasn’t so bad. The moment I feel any sense of complacency, I become restless. I need that next challenge, that next change. For now, my physical home is in Spain, but the home within my heart spans scores of time zones.
Lead photo: Corolla, North Carolina, with Pixie