This is a picture of my view from my favorite place in the entire world, my usual table at Barnes & Noble. I feel a little like Norm here. Everybody knows my name even though I don’t come nearly as often as I used to. More money than should have been spent has been spent here countless times over the last ten years. And I regret nothing!
I love to spend my days off here. Sometimes I’m on here RPing (yes, I’m that kind of nerd), sometimes I’m just looking stuff up, sometimes I’m reading book after book. I bust out the ear buds and the iTunes (currently listening to the Guardians of the Galaxy ST). I feel calm here, relaxed. I don’t feel like I’m being judged or stared at or like I don’t belong. This is home to me.
The area I’m moving to in Florida next year? They don’t have Barnes & Noble there. They have a store called BAM! Or Books-A-Million. We have one here, it’s not too bad. But it’s not home. And this is something I have to get myself around.
My Mom flew back to Florida yesterday. It was hard seeing her leave again but I know it won’t be too long til I’m down there with my family. When she called me after she finally got back to her house, she told me that her house is ‘home.’ She said that aside from me, there’s nothing in PA for her anymore. It doesn’t feel like home to her, there’s nothing to keep her here. And it got me to thinking what actually feels like home to me.
This spot, right here. This is home. It’s not a place I live, it’s not either of the houses that I grew up in, and it’s not where anyone I love is. It’s right here, in this spot, where I feel like I’m allowed to be myself. This spot where I’ve spent so much time, where I’ve invested my soul into creativity and knowledge and happiness. This is where I feel the most alive and the most at peace.
So what does that say about me? When I don’t feel at home when I’m actually ‘home.’ I used to think the house I spent the first 15 years of my life in was my home. The cul-de-sac cape cod with the above ground pool, the honey suckle bushes, and the safety bubble that made my neighborhood seem like Mayberry. I was crushed when we left that place, when we moved to the other end of town and into my grandparents’ house.
But then that place started to feel like where I belonged — til it was ripped out from under me. My Grandma’s death, my parents’ divorce, my mother’s disability, and bills that piled too high to get paid off. My Mom sold that house to save herself, moving to Florida shortly after my sister did. And the home that my Poppy had built for his family, the house only ever lived in by my relatives, was gone.
I drive past it sometimes just to see the changes made by the new owner. I drive past my old house, too. Everything is different. All I’m left with are the memories of my childhood. But I question all of them now. Were my parents ever really happy? Was my neighborhood ever really that safe? Would my Poppy have been okay with somebody else walking up and down those steps? Does his ghost still linger there or did it leave with us?
I suppose that’s how it is for everybody. Once they grow up and start moving on with their life, all they ever have to go back to are the memories. You can’t hold on to everything forever. It’s just not possible, no matter how hard we might try. And I tried. I nearly sank myself in the effort.
I’m hoping that when I get to Florida that I won’t regret the decision. I hope that I’ll find somewhere to work quickly — quitting a job I’ve had since I was sixteen is going to be a terrifying experience. I hope that I’ll be able to make new friends, because leaving the special ones I have here will be sad and I’m not the most social person. I hope that I’ll find a place that feels like home — whether it’s actually my home or just another safe, sanctuary like my table .. right here.