When I was a child my favourite place to be was home. My mom told me later that she worried about my ability to get along in the world because of my preference for hiding in my room. So when at 19 I announced to my family that I would be moving to Europe and that I would not return, you can imagine that my parents were a bit skeptical. Yes, before I had moved I decided that I would not come back to the United States. My mom asked me to be a bit more realistic and to be open to the option of moving home. She wanted to prepare me for the idea so that I wouldn’t feel like a failure when I did eventually come back. But nearly ten years later I am still here.
During a speech at my wedding my stand-up comic brother expressed his admiration for what he called my bravery in moving to another country without knowing anyone. My brother, who gets up on stage nearly every night to bare his soul in front of a sometimes unreceptive audience thought I was brave. But the truth was that when I moved to Rome all those years ago I did so not to have an adventure or expand my horizons, but because I was looking for a place that felt like home. I now think this had something to do with the freedom of not being labeled as anything to anyone, not only because nobody knew me, but also because the cultural barrier would make it more difficult for people I met to do so. But although I fell in love with Rome, my idea of what home was became further blurred. I remember late into my time in Rome listening to a Kings of Convenience song as I drifted off to sleep. The lyrics were: ‘Homesick. Because I no longer know where home is.’ I felt like it was written just for me
Years later, living in London, I still love to work alone and uninterrupted at home, but I am feeling less and less homesick. I don’t know if this has to do with wisdom or age, but I think I’m gradually settling into myself. Which makes me think that home has little to do with a physical location, and much more to do with a the feeling of being rooted, unshakeably so, in who you really are.