Thoughts about home

When I moved to the Boston area for graduate school, it was surreal.

On the way here from Ypsilanti, Michigan, not quite my home town, but very close, I drove through Canada. Not that exotic, I’ve done this road trip a few times in my life, though customs and border enforcement always makes me nervous.

Then, I visited my best friend, whom I have now known 3/4 of my life. She is working on re-habbing a castle in Upstate New York to create a Social Circus and Arts center. It’s an old armory that looks like a castle. She and her significant have spent a few years working on this project and building support for it.

I hadn’t seen her in a number of years, but that felt like home.

Then, she drove with me to Boston, and helped me settle in. She drove back to her fairy castle, and stowed my car until Christmas.

Meanwhile, my cousin was getting married in Marin County, so as soon as my stuff was in the apartment, I flew out to OAK and hung out with family, recouped my grandfather’s camera and a bunch of art I had forgotten he had from my ex-boyfriend, via my ex-boss in Palo Alto.

That felt like a very fraught version of Home.

Cambridge, where I flew back to live, did not feel like home. My apartment was empty, I knew nobody. As a nontraditional older student I felt out of place at Harvard, even though I “pass” as belonging, there were many places and times that I was unable to push back on things.

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And then there was none…

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Fast-forward to this past summer: the job I got after grad-school pays enough that I can save money and for the first time in ten years, I can afford a trip to Madrid.

The mom from “my” family came to meet me at the airport, and drove me back to where I was staying. Their house has had some renovations, but it’s pretty much as I remembered it, except the littles (from my Segovia Alphabet Video) are now just entering college and about to take a year abroad on an Erasmus scholarship in Italy.

I saw so many of my old friends in Madrid and Paris, and remembered exactly how to get around and where to find what I needed.

Many people are now absent, but it still felt like home.

I’ve now been in Boston for just over two years. I lived in Madrid for four. I live here. Some parts of it feel like home, but it is a place I still don’t feel connected.

Home comes with a lot of cultural and geographical values attached to it. I remember at one point, real estate agents switched from selling houses to selling homes. I found it jarring, even though I was about eight years old.

Is it possible to buy a home?

To me, home is something more human than architecture. It is not just the building you live in, but the shared value created by the inhabitants of the place. Not everywhere I have lived is a home. I am no rolling stone, and mostly, I don’t wear a hat,

Seriously though: some places I have stayed are just that: a place I spend time to sleep.

Video and poetry collaboration with Iva Markicevic

Others had some ineffable qualities that made them home. Some of that was the work that I myself put into them, particularly when I lived alone.

However there is more to it than that: connecting to the place in one way or another and creating a sense of community. Roommates, neighbors, family, work affiliations, and community evolvement all play a part in that.

I do not have a magic formula, but I know that creating a sense of home takes work, but it also takes a willingness to accept others.

These works of digital art reflect some of my thoughts, and some of Iva Markicevic’s thoughts about home. The joys and pains of attachment to a place are ripe for creating because all of us struggle with what it means to be home and how to build it.