(Transcribed from hand-written pages I wrote while seated at the Orange Cat Cafe in Lewiston, NY during the 4th of July weekend, having stayed with a friend’s family for the weekend, and feeling very much at home)
I could care a lot more about where I live, much more. By many accounts, and for many reasons, I probably should, but I don’t.
Home isn’t just a place where we sleep and keep all of our shit. It’s multi-faceted, a term and a concept with multiple definitions and meanings. If not for these meanings, we’d all be living in little uniform shacks, comfortable enough, equipped for the basic biological needs, nothing more. That, of course, isn’t where we actually live, but without added meanings, that’s what “home” provides in a purely physical sense.
Home is a status symbol, an investment, a hub for a family, a personal expression of identity, and, of course, shelter from the elements, storage for your stuff. For some, home is more than that: the promise of a future life for a new couple; a benchmark of “success” at whatever it is you love to do; or a connection to ancestry, tradition, and country, a way of life and human experience.
I have a quiet fascination with ruins. I’ve thought about taking the apocalypse tour of Detroit that urban explorer troupes are now offering. I’ve driven through the run-down areas of old Toronto, Hamilton, Buffalo, Brooklyn, and Niagara Falls. Like most people, I’ve seen the ruins in Rome, Varanasi, Angkor Wat, and Macchu Picchu on TV and in books: places built thousands of years ago that are now occupied by peoples and cultures beyond anything the builders themselves could have imagined into existence.
I look at the gentrification of Detroit and Hamilton, how the 100 year old red-bricks that once housed stores and factories now give shelter to hipster cafes and chic restaurants that attract well-to-do suburbanites back into the downtown.
I think of fancy, white-picket fenced homes in wealthy, “Stepford Wives”-esque suburbs that we later see on the six o’clock news because the husband beat up his wife, or because cops found a meth-lab in the basement. I think of the houses of divorce, where the definition of “family” transforms to adapt to child custody, new girlfriends and/or boyfriends, or simply something other than the nuclear family.
I’m getting carried away on this tangent. You get the idea. The definition of “home” is far more of a fluid reality than a fixed concept.
For much of the past year, I’ve been allowing myself to enjoy the idea of living on the road. Buy an RV, somehow equip it with mobile Wi-Fi, and wander the land, finding odd writing jobs that pay me just enough to fill my tank and my fridge, wash my body and my clothes, and otherwise allow me to be free.
I’ve also daydreamed about my actual stated goal: getting an apartment for myself in a city that’s central to my networks (Mississauga, in this case), a creative space of my own that is also cheap enough that I can bounce on a moment’s notice if I, say, want to travel. Again, I would remain free from attachment to a place, while always being two hours away at most from my closest friends and family.
I’m not fully attached to either option. I’m not entirely committed, either. What I’m truly present to today is that who I live near, or live with, is what will compel me to inspired action. For four years, I’ve been “homeless” inside the centre of my being, off on a great adventure of post-marital invention that is now entering its grandest state yet. As I wrote in my last entry, whoever I find that shows up naturally along this path will most likely determine where I live.
In the back of my mind, I guess that’s why I am remaining flexible about getting out on my own, about not setting down permanent roots anywhere in particular. As long as my living space provides the context and the instruments I need to create a life I love, the only trump card is right now in the hands of the woman I will meet along the way who changes the trajectory of the game play.
Taken all together – the possibilities I am living into now, the woman I will meet, the tools and contexts I need to do what I want – “home” is a non-local phenomenon, not any one place, but a feeling that can exist anywhere, that lives in the air of the present moment. I’ve yet to find one place other than my family’s home that is itself a compelling reason to stay. I’ve yet to meet the one person who will determine that place for me, but I will. When that happens, home will transform these ruinous old ideas of where I belong, just like the redbricks in Detroit, Buffalo, and Hamilton, just like the relics of Rome and Khmer.
When it happens, I will transform into the promise of love and belonging, and I will finally be at home in one place, rather than many.