I Don’t Have a Home
In high school I always wanted to get away. Not that I wasn’t happy at home, I just wanted to see what the world had to offer. I really didn’t care where I just wanted to get out there. I ended up in Hawaii after much prodding from my mom to decide on a university to attend. Frustrated, seeking any criteria to narrow it down, she poked and prodded until finally I said I wanted to go somewhere warm. Exasperated she exclaimed well “why don’t you go to Hawaii or something?” I don’t think she thought I would take this suggestion seriously, but I most certainly did. Getting on the plane I knew I was leaving home behind, but I never imagined that it would be permanent.
The fact of the matter is that home is always changing; we just don’t realize it because we change along with it. The first time I came home from school for summer, I realized that a few things had changed but more than anything I had changed. Returning to the familiar showed me how different I had become. However with the visits home that followed I stopped seeing how much I was changing and started to realize that home was transforming into something else altogether. With each passing year, I returned to fewer and fewer friends. Some of them had moved on and left. With others, our lives had simply diverged so much, that we just didn’t have anything in common. Finally one day I came home and nothing was really the same. Home had changed just as much as I had.
Ignorance is Bliss
Now, knowing all the great things out in the wide world, it is hard not to miss them. I have seen beautiful things. From the breathtaking views from Mt. Fuji, to the peaceful quiet of the rushing waves as the sun dips slowly into the horizon. I have tasted marvelous delicacies. Sushi so fresh it might start moving again and fruit that practically fell of the tree into my eager hands. I have met incredible people. People who have survived the horrors of a raging earthquake and people capable of a depth of love I had never imagined. Each of these experiences and encounters has left me magnificently changed and eager for more. And with each of these experiences I have one more thing to miss and to long for.
In Hawaii, I missed my family and friends and the comfort of being at home. I even occasionally missed a good snowball fight. In Korea, I missed the beaches and loving church family that I left behind in Hawaii. Now in Japan I miss the availability of wonderfully delicious and surprisingly inexpensive cuisine, and the ability to just hop on a train with no care in the world, off for another adventure in Korea. I suppose I built a home in every place I have been. So with each new destination I find that, sure it can start to feel like home, but with each new home I make I have all the others to miss.
It is easy to look back on the past and long for memories, moments and places called home. However, there is one thing that truly lets me live in the moment and find comfort even in the strangest of places. This one thing is very simple and surprisingly easy. It has worked for me in each of the many stages of my life. It is becoming a regular.
I am always amazed at how comforting it can be to walk into a place and know everything. That striking moment when you find yourself sitting in the same seat where you always sit, absentmindedly picking up the menu, even though you certainly don’t need it. The waitress greets you by name and then asks if you will be having the usual. In that moment everything is easy. This is your turf now, there will be no surprises. You start to recognize other frequenters and you become a part of the very character of a place. This is when you can proudly call yourself a regular.
Strangely, a restaurant, coffee shop or bar can become home very quickly. In the isolation of an empty apartment in a strange land, loneliness and desolation are just around the corner. But in the warmth of a favorite hangout lit up by friendliness and familiarity they cannot get to you.