June 27, 2017
advice articles
Going Home for the Holidays

Going Home for the Holidays

I’m sure you guys are aware by now that Will and I went home for the holidays to visit our respective parents in Florida for Christmas, both Will’s in Tallahassee and mine in Tampa. After all, we are daily vloggers, so you guys came along for the ride with us for the entire week. You got to see us hang out with friends and family and drink and eat and open presents and all of that good stuff. It’s not our first Holiday vlog, and all the stuff that took place was pretty standard for the most part. But there was also stuff going on that you guys didn’t see. I’m not talking about stuff that we didn’t include on video, because none of that was terribly spectacular. This holiday visit was our first trip back to Florida ever since we moved to California, and there was so much going through my head throughout that trip that I’m only now beginning to process and understand. More specifically, I got to thinking about “home”, and how the meaning of the word can change.

moving-away-from-homePrior to 2007, I knew exactly where “home” was. Sure, my family and I had moved a couple of times when I was a kid, from a townhouse to an apartment and finally to a house in the suburbs. But we still stayed within the same city, and pretty much within the same community too. Sure, our neighbors may have changed when we moved, but our friends, schools, etc. remained pretty constant. It wasn’t until I went to college, and left Tampa to live in Tallahassee, that I finally flew the nest and my perception of “home” began to change. Granted, it wasn’t immediate. During my first two years living in dorms at FSU, I definitely felt like I was “away”, and that I was returning “home” every time I drove back to Tampa. But as I started to grow up and learn how to find and pay for an apartment and utilities and groceries and take care of myself…and as I embarked on my relationship with Will, home started to feel less and less familiar. As I was growing and changing, so were things “back home”. My parents would change the decor and the furniture in my old room. Stores would open and close. New buildings would pop up in scattered places. Suddenly, it wasn’t up to my parents to make a “home” for me. Not that they wouldn’t be glad to if I had asked. It’s just that they have their lives to live now, and I have mine. And as much as there will always be a sense of familiarity and relaxation whenever I walk into my parents’ house and pet Randy, I get less and less in tune with the various things that go on.

I went from spending the first 18 years of my life in only 3 different “homes”, to living the next seven years of my life living in seven different dwellings that span opposite sides of the country. Looking back, it seems almost impossible that I’ve literally packed all of my possessions into my truck and moved myself across the entire country on three separate occasions (in the same truck no less). As a species, we human beings gravitate towards familiarity and routine, something that’s been seemingly absent from my life for the better part of the last decade. We think of “home” as being something that’s permanent, but that’s never the case. Even if we spend the entirety of our lives living in the same place, that place will still continue to grow and evolve once we’re gone. As much as we ache for stability, nothing in this world is permanent…and yet we still manage to make “homes” for ourselves.

rjdobbyThat’s because “home” isn’t necessary about being in a certain place. It’s about the people and the relationships we cultivate that makes up feel like we’re at home. I’ve only lived in this particular apartment for five months, and yet it already feels like a home to me, since I’ve filled it with things and people that I love and care for. None of it will last forever, but for now, it makes me feel safe and cared for. And yet I can fly across an entire country and feel a very similar sensation when I walk into houses in Tallahassee and Tampa and West Palm Beach (where more of my extended family lives). I’m not exactly sure where I’m going with this, but I thought I’d share my thoughts nonetheless.

As a side note, it’s kind of surreal moving to a “big” city and then seeing how people’s perception of you change. Like, I’m the same person I was before, for the most part. And yet now, because I live in LA, so many of my friends and family treat me with an almost reverence. I’m not just RJ anymore, I’m RJ who lives in the big bad city of LA. It’s just a place, like many others. And yet it’s romanticized so much that some of that romance rubs off on anyone who decides to set up camp there. Sure, there’s lots to do and see and experience in my new neighborhood, but it’s still just a location. It’s a location where people live and eat and work and sleep and shit and do other various mundane things. There may be differences in cultures and vibes in different cities, but they bustle with the same kind of day-to-day existence as anywhere else. Again, not sure where I’m going with this. It’s just an observation I thought I’d share…

About RJ

RJ is a blogger/vlogger/writer and the other half of the NotAdamandSteve duo. When he's not making videos or writing stuff online he's usually working out, traveling, telling you factoids you never asked for, working out, or spending quality time with his new husband and German Shepherd.


  1. the best hit it right on target.have and do feel the same.only one sentence upset me you have your home filled with things and loved ones,but nothing lasts forever????? that really upset me do you know why?? anyway you have such a way to convey our inner most highs and lows love to you and will

  2. Good article, RJ.

    (This is from a parent’s perspective.) It’s interesting how we interpret the word “home”, isn’t it? My son moved to another country over ten years ago, but has made many trips back to visit. I’ve had to make a conscious effort not to say he’s coming “home”, because, really, by now, his home’s in another country. Emotionally I’ll always think he’s coming home, but my practical side has to admit his home is elsewhere now. It’s hard!

  3. I suppose basically a home is where you feel you belong along with feeling safe. It could be a place or a person. A friend of mine is an orphan and was shipped around a lot to different places, sometimes he was on the streets. A home to him is a place he can go that belongs to him. Somewhere he can lock a door that shelters him from the elements and chaos on the other side of it. Another friend’s idea of a home is his husband. Where his husband is, is where he feels the most content and safe. It doesn’t geographically matter where they are.
    My opinion, I think you are like that. Where Will is, is where your home is. You were content in Florida and you’re content in California, the one common denominator is Will.

    I think if you live in the same area your entire childhood and early-early adulthood and move away, people who are still there are going to treat you with reverence mainly because you moved away from comfort of family/parents to somewhere else where you’re making it on your own. Coming from a smaller place, living where you do now is going to make it even a greater triumph. You may think you’re the same person and for the most part you are but people cannot help but change. Everyday life makes us change.
    My two cents. 🙂

  4. I’ve got a pretty good idea where you’re going because I’ve been down the same sort of discovery path. During a flight back to my newly adopted city—New York, in my case—after the holidays. For me, that realization was a big part of the maturation process. The subsequent move to California with my husband just pushed the childhood home further into the past. Even though I like seeing my parents and brother when I visit, I have lost all affinity for Texas where they still live. If anything, it feels more foreign to me today than places I need a passport to visit.

  5. Loved the article, RJ. One doesn’t really think much about the sense of home if it has never really changed, or if you haven’t been away from a place for a period of time. Yet it is also more that just an attachment to a single location, but an attachment to a sense of community. Having studied overseas for four years in Australia, I also developed the sense of having a ‘home’ there, as well as my actual ‘home’ back where I’m from, in Singapore. It’s really quite an interesting concept.

  6. i loved this, you’re a very good writer RJ

  7. Home is where the heart is and even though i’ve only lived in one house my whole life i feel at home whenever i’m with my family

  8. I love it.

  9. Loved this RJ Two things crossed my mind while reading it. I’m 38 so maybe this is why I was thinking so deeply about what you said but I use to LOVE to go “home” to visit my parents until they moved to a house I never lived in. After that I total shifted my sense of home. It was now firmly planted at MY house. Going to my parents new house was frankly just strange.. I found myself knocking on the door for example instead of just walking in. Also, I totally get the feelings you have about how people treat you now that you moved to LA. But frankly I suspect it has less to do with the fact that you have moved to LA and more to do with the fact that you are simply maturing (regardless how you pronounce it lol) and they respect you for moving forward and taking responsibility. Respect causes friends and family to treat you much differently over time. Wait until the first time they come to you for serious life advice or better yet a big loan!! Trust me, it’s coming. ha ha I love your writing. I hope you do nore of it soon. Charlie

    • Charlie you are right on point. My parents moved to a lovely seaside resort community where we had a small cottage for weekends and summer. When they retired they built their dream home where the cottage once stood. Even though I have ” My Room” it is not home. Home in now my place in Brooklynn that I share with my patner and pets.

  10. I’m still in the same house that I have spent my entire life in. Courtesy of my parents never moving and me not being old enough to move out. The most movement I’ve ever done is move out of the nursery and in to the room next door.
    However when I am away and I am spending the night at someone else’s house I end up calling their place home in casual conversations such as “When we get home I start revising.”

  11. Home is mostly about relationships. Just as with RJ and many other people posting replies, I lived “apart” from home from time to time, to study and work, but always with the certainty of being able to come “home”. After my father’s death, I moved back “home” to care for my severely disabled mother and “home” became a precious, almost intimate thing – so very fragile – as I was never sure when it would end.
    When she passed away last October, home stopped being “home” – it has transformed into a set of expensive and increasingly difficult to maintain bricks filled with bittersweet memories. So, it’s true – home IS all about the relationship.

  12. Since my birth, I’ve lived in a total of 4 different countries and 7 different cities or towns. I agree very much with RJ with the difference that I consider where my parents live as home, and wherever I sleep at night regularly. I go home for Christmas, and I go back home to continue my studies after Christmas. Home to me is where I surround myself with loved ones and where I have a safe haven away from the world. I tend to use it sorta relatively when I visit someone for an extended time-period, but then again I tend to have my safe-spot where I sleep.

    RJ, You’re not alone in feeling like that!

  13. This really got me thinking, and everything you said is true! I do agree with you, at some point we do think that where we lived as children is “home” but you realize that “home” is being with people you love, it doesn’t even have to be a building. I’m half Egyptian and sometimes when I got to Egypt just in the airport I feel like I’m at home because when I was a child that’s where I spent most of my summer. Yes, as I grew up I stopped going there I rarely do now, but It’s memories and loved ones what makes a home. Me and my family moved 3 times, we had nothing at 1st we lived in this tiny apartment (we were 7 living in that tiny apartment) now we live in a house and every now and then I miss it there because I have so many memories of my grandma there and I miss her almost everyday.. I think what I’m trying to say is FOR NOW home to me is where my loved ones and my memories are.. but who knows, a few years from now I might change my mind.

  14. rj this so good your writing I know you could write a best book, it would go like hot cakes! it is so good that you and will very good in what you do driffrent in so many ways but both you became as one your love for each other shine through your videos,so many things you both do to help other and the things you both involed in that why so many love you both thanks.

  15. Rossana Napoletano

    Good article, RJ 🙂

  16. I’m actually really happy you posted this. For me this really hit home. I lived in Laguna Beach my whole life but I left for college, at 17 no doubt, to go to Indiana because I was on scholarship. I tried to make it my home and to force it to feel like home and the biggest thing I learned it that you can’t force home. I was I’m Indiana but even over the year and a half I was there it still wasn’t home. I still felt that California was and is my home. Home is also where my family is in Oregon though. I’ve never lived there but when I walk into the house I still feel loved and like I belong. Home to be is where you surround yourself with loved and it’s the place your comfort zone starts. Can the home you are creating for yourself not feel like home at first? Of course! That’s how loved ones and decorating the house you are in make a home. You create your own home and I think that might where you have been going RJ. You and Will had your home in Tallahassee but when you moved together to LA you were together. A house or a city can’t make a home but you and Will and Dobby are home along with your parents, brother and Randy are home. Same with Will’s family. Okay now I’m babbling. I really loved this article it gives me hope that no matter what is going to happen in the next year with moving back to California and transferring schools I’ll be okay because I fill my life with the people I love, my home.

  17. For not knowing where you were going with this piece you certainly got there. And all you folks who have not had to venture from the next yet – or are struggling after you did – listen to this wise man.

  18. I recently experienced the same feeling. I’m originally from Texas — I was born in Abilene and spent a large portion of my life (9 out of 18 years) in the Dallas corridor — but I’ve lived in Ohio for four years now. I spent most of the past four years being pretty happy with life in general, but at the same time I was always missing “home” and to me home was this magical place back in Dallas where my three absolute best friends were and my best friend from middle school was doing really cool productions without me and I just felt so excluded because I had to move away. So when we went back this summer, I was really really excited to go home and especially excited because I was actually going to visit my bestie from middle school and was going to surprise her for her graduation party. And going back was great. I got to eat at my favorite tex-mex place, and enjoy the company of my family and I got to enjoy the limited humidity that Texas offers.
    But it was different. New businesses had gone in, old ones had left, my town had continued to grow and change and I was unfamiliar with the landscape to an extent. I still could have given directions to my best friends house, even from out of town, and to my old school, but my landmarks (for use in case of forgetting the street names) had changed. And that was the point at which I started to feel out of place, like maybe this wasn’t home anymore. I still felt right at home in my best friend’s place, because I spent soo much time there as a preteen and it’s literally the last house I slept in before I left. I could go back tomorrow and visit her parents (empty nesters now that she’s off at school) and feel so normal it’s not even funny. But the town as a whole was not as homey. I still wanted to cry as we left, and really almost did cry at the state line but I had and still have commitments to follow through on. My ultimate goal is to move back one day because I love the area a lot and while it’s super far away from “home”, aka Ohio, it will always be an area I can make a new home in, and not feel out of place. But until I have the resources to go out and make my own home, I think the home my parents have made is pretty damn awesome.

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