What is “coming home”? When I began the process of publishing The Narrow Gate, I had just moved myself and my cat for the third time in 10 years to take a job in the Chicago area. Two of the three moves were to areas of the country where I knew no one and had no family and friends. And all three were outside Western Pennsylvania to places I’d never even thought of living before, rather than places I longed to explore.
In 10 years I tripled my salary (not a big feat considering what I was earning) but I also went from always having multiple people who would offer to take me to the doctor, watch my cat, or grab coffee or dinner with me, to wondering if something awful happened to me who would notice if I was missing or come to check on me.
People who have never – or rarely – moved would tell me I was “brave” and “fearless” each time I picked up and relocated again to vault my career forward. But each time I started over it was lonely and I longed for a community of people to call my own. I longed for that feeling of home. I became disconnected and a little numb from it. Conducting friendships via text, Facebook, email and the occasional phone call became the norm. My writing was my outlet.
But when I found myself describing The Narrow Gate as a tale of coming home and a family that needed to heal, I began asking myself if I even knew what “home” meant for me anymore. Launching my book has helped me make a concerted effort to figure out what “home” is for me and promise myself to start making life decisions that get me to that place.
Home is about the “regularness” of having people in your life who know you and care about you, I’ve come to believe. Some places feel more like home because you like the climate or the nostalgia of your childhood happens to be evident there, but it is the every day comfort of knowing you’re somewhere where people are glad to see you, where people miss you if you’re gone, where you can give and receive from people, that makes the difference between home and just another place you set up residence. And sometimes the most unlikely places can come to feel like home.
It turns out people really do make the place!