Home is a contradiction. Home is from where I hail. Home is where I’m living. Home is the place I understand best. In that order, then, home is Utah, home is Los Angeles, and home is New York City. In the same order, home is where my parents are. Home is where my husband is. Home is where my career is. I’m all over the place.
Perhaps I won’t know one specific home until I’ve become the older generation, have ushered in the younger and helped them find a footing in this world. Wherever I may find myself surrounded by children and grandchildren, with frequent family gatherings and established holiday traditions, and a decades-old, taken-for-granted familiarity with local roads and markets and shops, perhaps only then will I know unequivocally where my home is.
As it stands, nowhere I’ve lived in the past five years is home for me, not of the fairy-tale type, as in Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz. Not of the type mentioned in Christmas songs. I loved living in New York City, and really did consider it home for the majority of my years there. I understood the city, the way it worked, its density and navigability, and the way people interacted with each other. I just got it. About six years in, though, everything about it started aggravating me to sheer anger. The subway delays, the below-freezing temperatures, the piles and piles of garbage, and how far away it was from my parents (my heart ached nightly over how much I missed them after seeing them only twice a year for six years) was just too much to take. I couldn’t call it home any longer. I spent the next three years conspiring to leave, and finally moved to San Francisco.
I didn’t like living in San Francisco, and I spent the majority of my three years there trying to verbally distance myself from it in the minds of everyone I knew and met. I’m not lazy, not like these people. I’m not a hippy, not like these people. I’m not radical, judgmental, anti-social, provincial or hermetic, not like these people. I observed these qualities in San Francisco residents, and then, yes, I judged them negatively, and began convincing my husband to move. I’ll admit there were some things I liked about San Francisco, such as the air quality, the proximity to wine country, the European beauty of the streets and buildings, but none of these outweighed my distaste for the lifestyle and the people. After three years, we packed up a U-Haul and drove to Los Angeles.
I like Los Angeles. At times I love Los Angeles. There is a vibrancy here, a pulse of activity and excitement. It is a city people gravitate toward to make something happen, make something of themselves, or to just make some thing. In that way, it reminds me of New York. People go out here just to be out and to see who else is out. At bars and restaurants, people observe one another, wondering, “Who is that person and what do they do?” I like that. I like wondering, and being wondered about. Strangers talk to each other here. In LA, you can go to a bar and meet a stranger and actually strike up a potential creative partnership. Some would call that ‘networking’ and be turned off by the notion of it. I’m excited by it.
Still, LA has its setbacks. Last night we went out for Korean food. The restaurant is only three miles from our apartment, but traffic was so bad that it took us thirty minutes to get there. We planned to get drinks at a bar in a different neighborhood later, and knowing it would be another thirty-minute drive, we lamented that we couldn’t just leave the restaurant and walk to the bar and then maybe choose to move along and walk to any number of other bars, like we used to in New York.
En route to the bar later, we realized that we could have taken the subway. The red line stops just one block from the restaurant, and just two blocks from the bar. Then, we could have walked home. Just like we used to in New York. If only we’d thought of it.