I am approaching my fourth anniversary with the state of California and something weird has happened. I am beginning to feel … at home here.
(Side note: My mother has just stopped reading and is now packing her car with rope, duct tape and a stun gun. She is now driving cross-country wearing her Boston Red Sox cap to come and collect my body and drag it back to the east coast.)
I first recognized the feeling Saturday after stepping off the plane at SFO. As I popped out of the Southwest terminal and onto the sidewalk after two weeks back east the thought struck me: It’s good to be back. Then I had to pause and consider: Am I … home? The feeling has irked me for a few days now.
Is home the place where you grew up or is home the place where you end your days? Is home a house where you live with your family or is home wherever you sleep at night? Is home the place you pay rent on, or is home really just a place in your mind that you can never really throw a light over? I guess what I am asking is when does home become more than just wood and walls and mortar? I guess that is a question I am still looking to answer.
Because right now my life is definitely in San Francisco. It’s where I live. It’s where I vote. It’s where I work. (Sort of.) But my family is back in Boston. Can you really ever separate your life from your home?
While back east for Christmas I had a list of things I wanted to do while home: Run along the Charles River, walk around the Fens – the garden, not the ballpark, eat barbecue at Red Bones, wind through the cramped streets of the North End and eat Florentine cookies from Modern Pastry, ride the T, hike along the A.V.I.S. trails in Andover – because those are the things I think of when I think of going home.
And I wound up doing some of those things. But for the most part, I visited with family, lounged around my parent’s house and tried to make my sister’s cats like me. (They don’t). So I am beginning to wonder if “home” is a place I imagine. Kind of like a melting pot of all my happy childhood memories that I conveniently label as “home” until I have my own family and house to decorate for the holidays. Or will I just want to drive to my mom’s house for dinner then too?
It took reading a recent post by my friend PB who just moved to SF from Boston this weekend to realize that I suffer from his same affliction: “My heart is split bi-coastally.” Maybe people like us are afforded two homes?
I moved to California because I needed a change. I had lived in Massachusetts my whole life and I was beginning to resent Boston – a city I loved and knew I loved. So I moved so I could lament what I had lost. And some things I will never get over. Take the discussion I had last night with my roommate Jack.
HIM: Kristen, now that you’ve lived in California for awhile, have you become a Giants fan?
ME: [Upon putting my eyes back in my head.] No, the only team I am a fan of is the Red Sox.
No matter how long I remain in California I will never convert. You don’t change your religion just because you move down the street.
Anyhow, I emailed PB yesterday to offer him solace about leaving the east coast . And maybe deep down I was comforting myself too.
“I think you and the Bay Area will become great friends. There is nothing quite like Boston, but San Francisco is a wonderful city to rest your bones for awhile … I have faith that you will be happy here. It’s taken me a year to feel this way, but when I got off the place at SFO Saturday, I felt like I was home. It will never be Boston, but it is close.”