After 8 months on the road, I recently made a pit-stop in my home state of Florida. A lot has changed since I hit the highway and it got me thinking about what “home” really is.
Mom and Dad picked Justin and I up from the Orlando airport and immediately took us to drive by the house we grew up in. When we moved out in January, we knew that it’d belong to another family soon enough. So when we rolled down our street, we shouldn’t have been so surprised that it felt different. Maybe it was the SOLD sign in the yard that made it feel less like ours. Or maybe it was the ripped up floors and empty rooms that we saw when we peeked in the windows that made it feel like we no longer belonged there.
So where is home when you feel like you no longer belong? For 20+ years that house was my home. We’d shared countless holidays, birthdays, and every other excuse for a get-together in that house. Justin and I learned just about everything we know within those walls and now those same walls were keeping me out. It’s strange to think that a place with so much personal history could feel so foreign after just 8 months.
Just how I felt I was at somebody else’s house when I peeked into my old room, I didn’t quite feel like I was home while staying at my parents’ new beach condo either. It was familiar, but how can you feel at home when you don’t even know where to find the spoons?! Nevertheless, spending time with Mom and Dad put a particular feeling in my gut that I’d felt all those years in our old house.
The next day my best friends (since high school) came out for a day at the beach. We’re all doing different things with our lives and had some catching up to do. There were different haircuts, jobs, houses, relationships, dreams, fears, and surfboards than when we last saw each other. But it still felt the way it always has: jokes, laughs, high fives, smiles, and encouragement. This was the most at home I’d felt since being back home. And then it hit me:
Home is not a place. Home is a feeling.
Maybe I’ve been putting too much emphasis on where home is instead of what it feels like to be home. After all, I’ve been experiencing from the road that same feeling I get drinking whiskey and talking with Dad, having breakfast with Mom, or going for a ride in the car with Max.
I felt at home exploring Central California’s coast with friends we met on the Internet. When you’re around people with similar interests and lifestyle, you feel at home wherever you are. Even on the remote beaches of Big Sur.
I met a guy from Iowa while camping on the beach in Texas. He didn’t want to cast his bait into the water the old fashioned way so instead he fashioned a bait-canon to cast his line for him! He reminded me of an inventive uncle that refuses to do things the normal way. (NOTE: pulling on the stick launches the bait: a feature that was added for “that pirate effect”)
And in Puerto Rico I met the sister I never had. After meeting we quickly realized that we are equally sarcastic and politically incorrect. She summed up our new friendship best with: “Dude, can you believe we haven’t even known each other for 24 hours?! I feel like we go way back.”
These are the kind of things that I’ve experienced on the road that give me the fuzzy feeling of home. The same feeling I get when I visit my Florida friends and family. I think for me, location doesn’t determine happiness, home, or family. Those things can be felt just about anywhere. While I’m super thankful to feel home where I’m from, I’m also excited to feel home where I’m going.
What feels like home to you?