This post is sponsored by Zappos.
I haven’t lived here– really lived here– since I was 17.
This is where I grew up. There have been weeks I’ve come back in my in-betweens in the past ten years. But not to stay. Since I left, I have carried the feeling of home with me wherever I go, and I think it makes every place hard to leave. This place taught me the meaning of home so thoroughly. I learned it well. And leaving anywhere is rarely easy as a result, because I see magic everywhere.
Home is the smell of the second floor of my parent’s house in the summertime. Home is the sideways light on the grass at sunset. It’s conversations with my grandpa at his kitchen table where I used to sit and eat boxed macaroni and cheese after school. He’s sharper than a tack without even trying.
Home. Where I don’t feel guilty for getting up late or just taking care of myself– something I have never been good at. Where the regulars at the old coffee shop remember me– and why on earth did I ever think I could get work done there, when I know I’d be happily stuck in an hour-long conversation– a recap of the past year of my life and theirs? Home is where I walk to the beach for a sunset, only this time I’ve got a camera in my hand and each time, more weathered skin, more wrinkles around my eyes, more freckles on my arms given to me by the same sun I know here.
Home is the same salad my mom makes every September when the tomatoes are ripe and red. Home doesn’t care when I leave and it doesn’t care when I come back. It’s a feeling anyway, like a memory, like nostalgia. And I take that with me everywhere.
Sometimes home is found at the bottom of my suitcase, the airport armchair I fell asleep on. Sometimes it’s journaling on the subway. Passport stamps and taxi rides and 40 cent fish soup on the side of the road next to a temple in Bagan. Sometimes home is restlessness in hotel sheets. Home is the endless hike down the mountain in the midnight sun. Sometimes it’s breakfast with someone I just met. And I’ll swear I knew them in a past life as we finish the blueberry pancakes.
Every place becomes a part of me, this one just carries more weight. It was the first place I knew, and for a lot of my life, it was the only place I knew. It taught me to know others– like your first best friend. Home is a deep exhale. I come here in the transitions now. I come here for a kind of grounding. A kind of reverence for the in-betweens and the closing of chapters and the starting of new ones.
I knew the feeling of home here first so I could learn to feel it and hold it everywhere else. So I could find Home in every place I have ever been– in a park in London, in the blue and white tiles of old church walls, and under a waterfall of frigid snowmelt in New Zealand.
This was always home first. Sometimes I miss it. Sometimes I miss the shortcut to the house from the train. So I’ll take a few days out of the year to be here, and I’ll be home somewhere else the rest of the time.
I know this place by heart. But I know home is more than one place. After all, understanding that home had a feeling is what allowed me to leave it in the first place.
Our Teva sandals are from Zappos.com. Zappos’ free and fast next-day shipping and excellent return policy is perfect for my nonstop travel schedule. I am wearing the Teva Original Universal Premier Leather in Indigo– great for the beach or walking around London, wherever I happen to be. Mom is wearing the Teva Original Universal Rope in Cognac.