The other day someone asked, “Where is home for you?” I did not really know how to respond. I am currently living in St. Louis, which is also where I was born and raised. I have been back for almost a year, but until then I had been gone for almost 10 years. I no longer know where most places are in the area, in fact, I am not sure I ever knew where things were to begin with. I never really bothered to find out. I had one foot out the door for as long as I can remember. I never got homesick, never wanted to leave camp, never wanted to leave vacations. Maybe St. Louis has never really felt like home to me. Most people who are from here seem to have no aspirations to live anywhere else. I have always wanted to live exactly ANYWHERE else.
After leaving for college, I would come back to St. Louis to visit my family. Once, as I was headed back to school, I said to my mother that I was heading home. She did not like I was already thinking of another place as my home. To me, it was my home. I was living in Nashville, all my stuff was in Nashville, if that was not home, where was?
I lived in Nashville for six years. It is where I rented my first apartment, paid my first bills, bought my first drink, took my first flight without adult supervision. If I am being completely honest, it is where I really grew up. I became an actual adult in Nashville. Plus, most of my favorite places are in Nashville. My favorite restaurants, my favorite stores, my favorite coffee shop, my favorite theaters, my favorite parks, and most of my favorite people. I believe that some part of me will always think of Nashville as home.
I left Nashville for graduate school in Cincinnati in 2010. Cincinnati never really felt like home either. I imagine for many of the same reasons as St. Louis. I never planned to stay there. In fact, I left the day after I turned in my final project. I did not bother to stick around until classes finished, I did not walk at graduation. The day they said I could leave, I packed up the truck and drove away (actually it was a terrible move, but for the sake of the story…). I did live there, I did have a couple of favorite restaurants there (pizza: Adriatico’s, Indian: Krishna), but no favorite stores, theaters, parks (I never once set foot in a park in Cincinnati), and most of my favorite people had moved away or were shortly thereafter moving away. None of us really planned on sticking around, so no one was really concerned about planting roots…
Now I am back in St. Louis. I still, very much, have one foot out the door (maybe one and a half). I know where I am going (Los Angeles) and have a plan for when I am going there (next summer, hopefully). At that point, will Los Angeles become home?
This weekend, I am heading to Nashville. I am so excited. I love this city so much. Whenever people tell me there are going there, I list off a string of places they have to go and what to get there. I think that of all the places I have ever lived, Nashville is the only one that has ever felt like my home. I don’t know if that will always be the case, but it is the only place I have ever felt “homesick” for.
So what constitutes home? I am not totally sure I have found it yet. I have come close, I think, but I have yet to live in a city where I knew I could stay there. Maybe part of me will always be ready to leave wherever I am at the time. Maybe I am not wired to settle down in any one place. Maybe I just have not gotten there yet and home is waiting for me somewhere else.
For today, I am getting ready to go to Nashville for the weekend and a part of me feels like I am heading home.