Where Is My Home?

This is my submission to the June Carnival of Aros, which is being hosted by Next Step: Cake.  The theme this month is “House and Home”.


“Is it the sky today
The way that the wind’s pushing the clouds?
Or is it the late-day sun
Stretching the shadows over the ground
That brings on these memories
Of people and places I’ve never seen
And voices so strange and so sweet
Asking me softly:
Where is my home?”
  – “My Home”, Rockapella

Nobody warned me.

In the weeks before I moved into a house with my best friend and her family, amid all the well-meaning and sound advice given to me by friends and family members about the challenges of living with others, the strain it can put on a relationship, and how cohabitating is a sure way to ruin a friendship, no one once warned me of the real danger: that the arrangement would work out so well I would never want to leave it.

Nobody warned me, but they didn’t need to.  I saw the danger, and I did it anyway.

It worked out even better than I imagined.  I thought that after a while having my friends around all the time might become annoying, or that I would resent my loss of privacy, but, “as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on”, spending more time with them only made me crave their company more.  For the whole first year, I came home every evening excited about the prospect of seeing them again and sad every time they weren’t around.  The first summer, they went away for two months.  I experienced a lot of separation anxiety before they left, and their departure left me feeling bereft.  I convinced myself that they were never coming back, but they did, and life went on.

Then came a pandemic.  I’ve written already about how that affected our relationship, but the short version is that more time together brought us into an even closer relationship.  Shared meals went from being an occasional occurrence to a standard event.  We started doing regular movie nights.  We went to online church together.  We spent holidays together.  We watched the pandemic unfold together, went for testing together, and, eventually, all got sick together.

There were stresses, yes, but they were almost all connected to the times we needed to isolate from each other.  Spending time with them never became a burden.  Still, the initial thrill did wear off a bit after a while.  It was less exciting to come home to them when I knew they would always be there.  When they took another two-month vacation, I was glad, not because I resented their presence, but because I’d started taking it for granted and I wanted to remind myself to appreciate it.

Over-all, though, the experience was an unequivocally positive one.  For four years, my friends gave me a place to live, a family to share it with, and, to quote Charles Ryder, “a brief spell of what I had never known, a happy childhood”.  For four years, I missed them whenever they went away and was homesick whenever I went away.  For four years, the house we shared was home.

And now, very soon, that will end.  In a few short weeks, we’ll be moving out, I to a place on my own, they to a new house in a new city.  Apartment hunting has been a stressful process, and the prospect of living on my own as a single person is daunting.  But beyond the material concerns of putting a roof over my head and paying all my own bills there’s a less urgent but more lasting concern.  Because finding a place to live is one thing.  But finding a home is something else.

I recently discovered the song “My Home” by Rockapella and the Persuasions.  In it, the singer wonders what “home” means to him and contemplates several options of where his home might be:

“Where is my home?
The walls of a city
Painted with promises
And words so unkind?
Where is my home?
The trees of a country
Where autumn came suddenly
That I’ll never find?”

Even though the theme is home rather than identity, the song feels thematically similar to my post “Expecto Patronum: Seeking Identity in a World of Labels”.  The identity theme even comes up explicitly in the second verse, which goes:

“What makes this person me?
Is it the little town where I was born?
Or maybe it’s history
The faces of family I’ve never known
Somewhere across the sea
Where my great-grandmother left long ago
Under a cold, crying moon
Looking for something?
Where is my home?”

And the singer eventually comes to a conclusion that’s similar to mine:

“And then there’s your face, my dear
And I know I’ll never be walking alone
The love in your eyes makes it clear
Telling me softly:
This is my home”

These words resonated so strongly with me the first time I heard them that it took a few more listens before it occurred to me that they were probably intended for a romantic partner.  Possibly.  Maybe.  I shouldn’t make assumptions about the writers’ intentions.  The point is that I didn’t initially interpret them as romantic because they echo my own feelings about my platonic relationships.

I don’t necessarily feel a strong connection to a city, a building, or an ancestral homeland.  The only house I remember being happy in as a child is the one we sold when I was seven.  Since then, the most happiness I’ve ever known has been sharing a house with my friends.  And it wasn’t the house that made me happy; it was the people I shared it with.  They were my home.

So what does that mean for me moving forward?  I’m about to move out of the home I’ve lived in for four years.  And, thanks to changes in my parents’ living situations, even the homes I grew up in are no longer in the family.  I plan to stay in my hometown, but many of the people who made that town home for me will be gone.  In the short term, the future promises continuity, but also isolation and uncertainty.

And in the long term?  There’s a good chance that my friends’ move away will be temporary.  And, if they come back, there’s a good chance we’ll once again look for a place together.  Viewed with that potential in mind, I’m actually pretty optimistic about the current situation.  They will get to have some adventures.  I will practise being independent and self-sufficient.  We’ll cultivate relationships and renew habits that got put on hold during the pandemic.  And, when we come back together, we’ll hopefully all have a better idea of what we want from our living situation and a better ability to make it real.

But there’s also a chance things won’t work out that way.  Our life paths may end up taking us in different directions.  And, even if we do decide we want to live together, we may not be able to find a place that works for us.  There’s lots of housing designed for either nuclear families or single people; there’s much less for families that want to live together with their pet nothers.

So, while I have an idea in my head of what I’d like the future to look like, I also know that it may never happen, that the next year may not simply be a hiatus from the life I’ve known, but the start of a new journey whose destination is shrouded in mystery.  And that I may have to find a new answer to the question:

Where is my home?

10 thoughts on “Where Is My Home?

  1. VioletEmerald says:

    Reblogged this on From Fandom To Family – The New Home of luvtheheaven! and commented:
    I left this all as a comment on this post that I’m reblogging, left it as a comment about a month ago in July but now I decided to repost it to my own blog for any of my own followers to get a chance to read. It’s not polished, ends kinda abruptly, but at least it’s something. And I have been wanting to get back into blogging. The only modifications are to fix typos and fix for grammatical clarity.

    This post of Blue Ice-Tea’s makes me feel such a mix of opposing emotions. It triggers so much in me. I recommend you read it first and then come back to my words.

    So here’s what I had to say to the author:

    It’s so so nice that living together with your friends worked so comfortably and amazingly and despite the warnings you were optimistic and right to be about how good the situation would be.

    I’ve been processing in therapy many things and for the past couple of weeks we got to a more in depth dive about my dating/alterous relationship with “Asher”, which is the only person I’ve intentionally ever moved in with by choice really, other than my dad. And one piece of our relationship was that living with them was so bad that despite signing a 1 year lease together, I moved out after 2.5 months and broke the lease early and luckily they allowed us to only pay for 4 months of rent instead of 12.

    This example you painted of how you felt feels like a necessary reminder of just how possible it is for things to be that nice.

    And in a way I relate. I relate when it comes to me and my dad. When I moved out to live with Asher, when I thought seriously about moving far away to live with “Teresa” (my next partner), I was so sad at the thought of no longer living with my dad. I enjoy quality time with him so so much, like “the more, the better”. I feel embarrassed by how much I enjoy quality time with him, but I’m so grateful he clearly enjoys it too. We can spend days on end on a vacation without a moment apart, even sleeping in the same bedroom, and not get tired of one another or annoyed with each other. I feel silly trying to prioritize time hanging out with him almost every single day on the calendar, knowing it’s a very limited window between when he gets home from work on weekdays and when he goes up to bed, and that same window of evening times is when so many other things in my life end up being scheduled for. It’s tough being overcommitted with so many competing priorities, and it feels almost silly to be making decisions like if I want to commit to every single Wednesday evening doing something like an exercise class or a standing phone call with a friend, knowing I’m losing valuable time I could be spending hanging out with my dad, watching tv with him and pausing frequently to talk, impromptu trips to the grocery store together, etc.

    This post mostly just made me sad for you and for how that had to end. And how unfair it feels that our society isn’t really built in a way where anyone expects it to be ongoing indefinitely. And sad for myself that it feels so hard to imagine such a nice home/”chosen family” in my future actually working out long term with anyone besides my dad, despite how badly I long for it.

    This post also reminds me of how my own concept of where I feel that sense of “home” is something I really dwelled on a lot more a decade ago and has evolved over time. When I lived with my abusive mom, home was not really safe or comfortable… At least not all the time. But it was still home and simple enough to conceptualize that the place I lived most of my life and the place I slept was home. And I even grew very attached to the objects and furniture and aspects of my home there, like my own bedroom felt like a solace-space, even if I have multiple traumatic memories of my mom invading it, doing things in it like breaking my bracelet when ripping it off my wrist or punching a hole in my acoustic guitar as it sat on my bed – it could only be “invaded” because it was indeed a space that I felt quite comfortably at home in most of the time.

    When I stopped suddenly living with my mom at age 17 life was better, calmer overall, etc., but also I didn’t really have a home. I lived in a combination of two other people’s houses. My grandmom’s, my dad’s. They didn’t feel like mine.

    I went off to college and it’s been so long now I can’t remember if what happened is I struggled to call the dorm I now lived in “home”, or if I automatically immediately did call it home but noticed when I did and felt weird as soon as I heard myself say it about that being called home. I think it might’ve been the latter. I called it home but felt odd about how quickly I latched on to a tiny space shared with two strangers being my home.

    Meanwhile while I loved my dad so much, I was still resistant to that house being called “home”. It didn’t feel natural.

    And I even started writing a fanfic philosophizing about the meaning of home and the differentiation between where you live and what feels like home – titled “A Place Called Home”. I have always cared about this concept quite a lot.

    And now that I’m closer than ever to pursuing becoming a foster parent, considering this home concept for the youth who are in this system becomes so important too on so many levels. Just because something is called a group home and not an orphanage doesn’t necessarily mean it feels like a home. But foster homes and foster families ideally would help kids feel like they indeed have a new welcoming, comforting home with stuff that makes it feel theirs alongside people who help them feel comfortable and cared about and all the things human beings generally require for both physical and emotional well being. But acknowledging the loss of – or temporary separation from – their (former?) home is important too. Etc etc.

    Like

  2. VioletEmerald says:

    This post makes me feel such a mix of opposing emotions. It triggers so much in me. It’s so so nice that living together with your friends worked so comfortably and amazingly and despite the warnings you were optimistic and right to be about how good the situation would be.

    I’ve been processing in therapy many things and for the past couple of weeks we got to a more in depth dive about my dating/alterous relationship with “Asher”, which is the only person I’ve intentionally ever moved in with by choice really, other than my dad. And one piece of our relationship was that living with them was so bad that despite signing a 1 year lease together i moved out after 2.5 months and broke the lease early and luckily they allowed us to only pay for 4 months of rent instead of 12.

    This example you painted of how you felt feels like a necessary reminder of just how possible it is for things to be that nice.

    And in a way i relate. I relate when it comes to me and my dad. When I moved out to live with Asher, when i thought seriously about moving far away to live with “Teresa”, i was so sad at the thought of no longer living with my dad. I enjoy quality time with him so so much, like the more the better. I feel embarrassed by how much i enjoy quality time with him, but I’m so grateful he clearly enjoys it too. We can spend days on end on a vacation without a moment apart, even sleeping in the same bedroom, and not get tired of one another or annoyed with each other. I feel silly trying to prioritize time hanging out with him almost every single day on the calendar, knowing it’s a very limited window between when he gets home from work on weekdays and when he goes up to bed, and that same window of evening times is when so many other things in my life end up being scheduled for. It’s tough being overcommited with so many competing priorities, and it feels almost silly to be making decisions like if I want to commit to every single Wednesday evening doing something like an exercise class or a standing phone call with a friend, knowing I’m losing valuable time i could be spending hanging out with my dad, watching tv with him and pausing frequently to talk, impromptu trips to the grocery store together, etc.

    This post mostly just made me sad for you and for how that had to end. And how unfair it feels that our society isn’t really built in a way where anyone expects it to be ongoing indefinitely. And sad for myself that it feels so hard to imagine such a nice home in my future actually working out long term with anyone besides my dad, despite how badly i long for it.

    This post also reminds me of how my own concept of where I feel that sense of “home” is something I really dwelled on a lot more a decade ago and has evolved over time. When I lived with my abusive mom, home was not really safe or comfortable… At least not all the time. But it was still home and simple enough to conceptualize that the place i lived most of my life and the place i slept was home. And i even grew very attached to the objects and furniture and aspects of my home there, like my own bedroom felt like a solace space, even if i have multiple traumatic memories of my mom invading it, doing things in it like breaking my bracelet when ripping it off my wrist or punching a hole in my acoustic guitar as it sat on my bed – it could only be “invaded” because it was indeed a space that i felt quite comfortably at home in most of the time.

    When I stopped suddenly living with my mom at age 17 life was better, calmer overall, etc but also I didn’t really have a home. I lived in a combination of other people’s houses. My grandmom’s, my dad’s. They didn’t feel like mine.

    I went off to college and it’s been so long now I can’t remember if what happened is I struggled to call the dorm I now lived in “home”, or if i automatically immediately did call it home but noticed when I did and felt weird as soon as I heard myself say it about that being called home. I think it might’ve been the latter. I called it home but felt odd about how quickly i latched on to a tiny space shared with two strangers being my home.

    Meanwhile while I loved my dad so much, i was still resistant to that house being called “home”. It didn’t feel natural.

    And I even started writing a fanfic philosophizing about the meaning of home and the differentiation between where you live and what feels like home – titled “A Place Called Home”. I have always cared about this concept quite a lot.

    And now that I’m closer than ever to pursuing becoming a foster parent, considering this home concept for the youth who are in this system becomes so important too on so many levels. Just because something is called a group home and not an orphanage doesn’t necessarily mean it feels like a home. But foster homes and foster families ideally would help kids feel like they indeed have a new welcoming, comforting home with stuff that makes it feel theirs alongside people who help them feel comfortable and cared about and all the things human beings generally require for both physical and emotional well being. But acknowledging the loss of – or temporary separation from – their former home is important too. Etc etc.

    Like

    • Blue Ice-Tea says:

      Oh, man. I wish I could give this the kind of response it deserves, but (as you can probably imagine from my post) I’m pretty busy right now. -_-;

      I do just want to say, though, that there are a lot of thoughts in your comment that deserve to be shared generally, not just with me and my readers. You should publish it as a post on your own blog. Heck, maybe it could even be your own submission for the month (it’s not like the round-up has been posted yet)!

      Liked by 1 person

      • VioletEmerald says:

        Lol only saw your reply now. My WordPress game is not up to par anymore… I keep failing to consistently check my email… 🙂 hmm maybe I’ll repost this comment as a reblog thing to my blog or figure out a way to incorporate it into some kind of larger blog post. I do keep thinking i want to get back into my blog.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Blue Ice-Tea says:

      I’m so glad you reposted this on your blog: https://violetemeraldx.wordpress.com/2022/08/08/where-is-my-home/. I’ve written some additional comments on that blog post.

      “This post mostly just made me sad for you and for how that had to end. And how unfair it feels that our society isn’t really built in a way where anyone expects it to be ongoing indefinitely.”

      Yeah, our society definitely isn’t built like that. Although other factors make it difficult, too. Finding people you actually want to live with and whose living situation is compatible with yours isn’t easy. And even in a case like ours, where we like each other and enjoy living together, our life priorities have ended up taking us in different directions. They wanted to move to a new city; I wanted to stay put. Staying together would have required at least one of us to sacrifice or compromise more than we were willing to. If society had different expectations of platonic relationships, perhaps we would have felt more pressure to stay together. But would that have been a good thing? I don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mia Berkstresser says:

    I know it’s half about finding a home in the absence of one, but I have to say, this post is so wholesome. I love that you have that kind of relationship with your friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sildarmillion says:

    Oh man! Life is such, isn’t it? All good things must come to an end … sometimes earlier than is ideal. In my submission, I also touched on (in the middle) the feeling of having found “home” with different people, but none of those lasted as long as I wish they could have. Good luck with moving to a new place, and I hope it all works out in the end, whether with a home or even without a home!

    Liked by 1 person

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