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.
Prior 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.
That’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…