, how is your heart right now? What is home for you?
I used to think of home as the place with the highest number of these things:
- Me living there (past or present)
- Physical possessions
- Memories (aka history, place attachment, nostalgia)
That worked well for San Diego for awhile. (I went to high school there and still had stuff in my parents’ home.) Until my parents moved back to Malaysia (temporarily, it turned out) and the remainder of my childhood possessions were tossed or came back with me to NYC. But three years in NYC does not a New Yorker make even though all that was missing from the above criteria for making NYC home was #2: Family. (I’m conflating home and “Where are you from?” because those are the same thing for many.)
Finding a home via community in Hangzhou and Shanghai was easy. Then, community in NYC came from fellow Shanghai transplants, acting groups, and oh right, the community of a full-time job.
Community in LA? Well, between the end of a long-term relationship followed by this ongoing pandemic... So. much. effort.
Here, I’m creating my belonging by focusing largely on my loose community: Neighbors on my street who recognize me and even maybe know my name! Workers in businesses along streets and corners I frequently pass with whom I chat. Baristas! Fellow coffee shop regulars! Yoga teachers! My Buy Nothing group where I’m finally starting to give to people I’ve received from (and vice versa). And even a biweekly women’s cycling group where I’m usually the youngest person there by far! Being seen and known is important on a deep relational level, but it’s also important on a widespread surface level (where being seen and known is as simple as someone recognizing you and asking how you’re doing).
Not only can the definition of home change over time (e.g. from the 5 points above to me realizing that *I* am my own home), so too can the approach to creating a home change between physical locations and seasons of life.
When I returned to NYC, I was thrilled to jump back on a CitiBike (just like old times!). But they were all new CitiBike models with unhelpful new front basket designs and dang it, I wanted to cycle around with more accurate nostalgia please and thank you!
So when I spotted an old-school CitiBike amidst a sea of upgrades near Battery Park, I very delightedly grabbed it to ride up along the East River Path! Whereupon I discovered that these original bicycles that I rode all over NYC 3+ years ago with zero issues were actually, well, kinda slow and crappy... Surprise, surprise, the new ones are SO much better.
Sometimes it takes an encounter with something from our past to remind us yet again that change is constant, life is woefully unpredictable (my INJF and Enneagram 5 self mourns), and that we aren’t the same as we were back then. (Though I think the vast majority of us can say with certainty that after 3 ish years—give or take a couple of months depending on where in the world you are—of this pandemic, that we have very clearly changed.)
So tell me, what is home to you? Has that changed over the years or has it remained fairly constant? How about you yourself? How have you changed in the past 3 years or longer?
You know how this goes... hit reply and let me know. :)
P.S. pass this along to anyone who might enjoy the little things! I’d love to spread more gratitude for the little things of life this year!