Here’s the thing about home

This post is part of Urban Compass’s starter stories project. Urban Compass is all about pairing people with the perfect home – a home that matches their personality and lifestyle. Finding real estate in NYC can be a daunting task, but Urban Compass is committed to helping people find the perfect spot for them to kick off their pants and be home. 

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The bed I slept in last night I have slept in approximately 6,000 times before. The nightstand where I set my glasses before drifting off has held my glasses almost 4,000 times before. The drawer from which I pulled my underwear last night after my shower has held so many years of my underwear. I’m home for the holidays and at my parents’ house, my bedroom furniture has been the same my entire life. I have never had another nightstand or stand-up dresser or bed. Blessedly, this year my present from my mom, brother, and his girlfriend was freshly painted bedroom furniture! So everything is twenty years old but it all looks brand new with both ombre and chevron now represented in my room-at-my-parents’-house.

I wonder sometimes if I’ll always have a room at my parents’ house. I wonder if I’ll always have to clarify when I use the word “home.” I have an apartment in the DR, a little one bedroom apartment that I am seriously in love with. It fits all of my furniture perfectly and there I have no need. I have no TV, no microwave, no clothes dryer, no bathtub, no dining room table, no air conditioning and no need. I have just enough space for everything I need, just enough surface space for artistically placed clutter that allows me to always be looking at pretty things, and not enough space to collect crap I don’t need. It’s perfect and it’s home and I hope I live there forever.

Yet all last week my friends and I asked each other questions like this – “Are you going home for Christmas?” “When are you going home?” “How long are you gonna be home?” “Where’s home?” Questions like these make the idea of home very complicated. Questions like these assume that my room-at-my-parents’-house full of the same bedroom furniture I’ve used since I was in preschool is more home than my one bedroom apartment full of books and candles and Harry Potter things.

I’ve said before that I have homes all over the place – that I’ve left pieces of my heart and my life in more than one house, in more than one city, and it’s true. I have a home, first and foremost, here in Westland, Michigan in the brick house between my best friend’s family and my adopted grandparents. I have a home in Springfield, Ohio where I found myself in the truest sense of the phrase. I have a home in Brooklyn, New York, which is a really cool place to have a home. I have a home in Indianapolis, Indiana and I wasn’t sure about that one until I went back for a visit this summer but oh, it felt like home. I have a home in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, where most of my stuff and all of my cats are. I am building a home in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, because if you ever get the chance to build a home in the mountains you should take it.

So what do I mean when I say home? Is home the place where you parents are? Where you’ve used the same bedroom furniture your whole life? Is home the place the cats are? Is home, as the photo above suggests, really the place where the pants aren’t? I think it’s mostly the last one. Because when I say home I mean words like familiar and comfy and safe. Home is the place where I could sit around all day reading a book and not feel in the way, not feel pressure to do something more exciting. Home is the place where I can reach for the silverware drawer without thinking, where I feel safe enough to cook something or to make myself a sandwich. Home is all the places I’ve watched episodes of House Hunters and all the places I have a library card.

My favorite cover of my favorite song about home:

I don’t think I’ll ever have one home. I think I’ll always have to use those clarifiers – my parents’, where I lived in collegewhere I go to write, where I lived once for a summer and made really solid friends. Which at first glance might sound awful and disconnected and lonely. But it’s so, so good, you guys. Having more than one home feels so nice and lovely. It’s a privilege to be welcome in so many spheres.

For now my primary home – where most of my stuff and all of my cats are – is my one bedroom apartment in San Pedro. It is colorful and the kitchen is full of all the paintings and children’s books I own. The windows are always open and the cat bowls are always full. There always has been and always will be a Harry Potter calendar somewhere, informing me of the next day off, the next friend’s birthday, and the next trip to the beach. There’s no TV, but there are over 100 DVDs, including all of Gilmore Girls. There is a well-used desk that needs a paint job. There is a mix-match of hand me down and new furniture and at this point it’s all looking a little worn (where worn is just a word for cozy and well-used and homey). You are always welcome, unless I’m reading or writing or watching TV or it’s past 9pm. You are always welcome if you are a cat or you are bearing pizza.

So yes, home is where the pants aren’t when pants are a symbol for any expectations for you to be anyone but exactly who you are. Home is where you are welcomed and celebrated because you’re here and you’re you. Doesn’t that sound nice?

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