Some look at the odyssey of my life, 6 major moves in my adult life alone, and think, “courage”. Others think, “unstable”. It has taken me until the 42nd year of my life to really understand that my journey has not been one of running away — as I had self-judged — but one of running towards things.
Why so long to figure it out? I guess in part because I arrived in this life feeling unsettled, and moreover, unsure of who I am. I was more anxious to “belong” than I was to embrace my authenticity, and so I allowed myself to run towards new experiences hoping that each would be the one that felt like home, like me, like belonging. When the initial shock of change wore off I would find myself frequently struggling to belong, and when that feeling never came I would run quickly and frequently without a visible net toward an inner longing.
Those journeys took me to wonderful places and introduced me to so many amazing individuals. What was always a bit unsettling, however, is that no matter how hard I tried, no matter how immersed in my community I got or how much I longed for stability I always had a feeling that I was not where I belonged. After each house we purchased I could feel that it wasn’t the home so many of my peers had where their kids would come home with their kids and reminisce about childhood and memories. I wanted that in my last house, and dug my feet in so hard to make it so that the uprooting was much more tumultuous than it should have been.
Three years ago now I brought my kids east from California to see where I grew up and to come back to a city I love, Washington, DC. As we were flying into BWI and buildings were coming in to focus, my son asked me to point out the Capitol Building and I burst into tears. When my feet hit the ground I was overwhelmed and taken aback by the feeling that had eluded me for almost 40 years — the feeling of home.
Less than one year later I was driving across country with my husband, kids and dogs returning to a place that I had mentally released and to which I had sworn never to return. We landed. In truth, the arrival has not been as smooth as one might think when something feels so right. In fact, many times I have wondered, “what on earth was I thinking?” This bumpy ride left me wondering if once again I somehow missed, if somehow I raced too quickly toward something empty. Recently I have come to realize that the re-immersion has been one of healing. I had to come home in order to sort through all of the experiences I’ve gathered. I had to come home as who I’ve become to realize who I’ve been. I do believe that only in one’s home can we claim our space.
There has been a shedding of sorts as I suss through my life choices. I am letting go of things that needed to happen but which no longer make me happy. I’m owning those parts of me that were hidden when I was young and only emerged as I allowed myself to explore new places and situations. Sometimes, in the midst of those eras of my life I couldn’t recognize myself because I was “knee deep in it.” I was emerging, oftentimes to quash it for fear that it would make me stand out instead of fit in. But from home, from this place of safety, I can lay it all out and assess and choose and see myself accurately for the first time in my life. It’s as if I’ve been traveling around gathering all of the lumber and doors and windows for my dream home, but I’ve been doing it for so long and have been so many places I forgot what I accumulated and the plans for the house felt distant in spite of the tools I had gathered. Now, in this place I can unpack those crates, lay it all out and build the home / life that is a true reflection of me.
I share this as I know so many people are currently wandering and gathering their own materials, preparing to settle comfortably into their own “house”. So many times clients ask me, how will I know, and will I be happy there? The answer, your heart will tell you — in some unmistakable way. Happiness is based on your willingness to let the process unfold, to embrace the life you’ve created and to realize that for some, home is just a stopping place to take stock; a place where one comes and goes whenever they need to recalibrate. for some this is literally going home to a parent’s house, for others it’s a retreat where the world is silenced and for others it’s a move to a geographical region that fills their heart.
Wherever your home is, may you find it, embrace it and feel complete while you are there.