Thursday, August 18, 2011

Where is home?



a : a familiar or usual setting : congenial environment; also :the focus of one's domestic attention <home is where the heart is>

at home

1 : relaxed and comfortable : at ease at home on the stage>

2 : in harmony with the surroundings

3 : on familiar ground : knowledgeable at homein their subject fields>

I don’t often feel at home. I’m okay in my house – it’s full of my stuff and sometimes my family, which is comforting. But it’s not me. That will change soon, though.

When I say I’m going home, I usually mean Lansdale, PA. That’s where I grew up, though I wasn’t born there. I was born in Boston and spent the first five years of my life in Chelmsford. A nice place, sure, but it’s not home.

I couldn’t wait to get out of Lansdale. Now sometimes I can’t wait to go home, even though my “home” there is now the Marriott Courtyard hotel.

Ocean City, NJ is probably the place where I feel the most at home. Now, after not being here regularly for so many years, it’s a little less like home, a little less familiar. I still love it. It still brings me peace. I walk into Marty’s or Henry’s or the Old Salt and I recognize the people who work there. Many of them were working here when I started working.

I got my first job when I was 14. It was in an odd store that sold all sorts of stuff – jewelry, doll house furniture, kites, stuffed animals – everything. I told the owner I was 16. He told me I was magically 17 (the legal age for me to work then) and poof, I had a job. On Sundays, because of blue laws, the store would open for a few hours at midnight. There I was, a 14 year old pretending to be 16, told I was now 17 but still scared inside walking by myself on the boardwalk at 2am.

I learned all I know about gems and jewelry (and it’s a lot) from Henry’s. Ask enough questions over a number of years and you start to learn things. They eventually hired me and taught me more. I loved that job.

OC is an odd place. It’s a dry town so there are no bars, no liquor stores. It’s billed as “America’s Greatest Family Resort”. I’ll buy that. Every year we walk and drive around the island looking for what stayed the same for another year and what changed. Sometimes the changes are good. Sometimes they make me sad. But I always notice them.

I don’t get lost here. I’m here once a year at most and can still get around perfectly. I know which streets have traffic lights, where stores are, how to get around traffic without thinking about it. It’s IN me.

I live in Silver Spring, MD now. I’ve been there 18 years. I was supposed to stay 3 months (for an internship). I didn’t call it home until I’d been living there for nearly 10 years. While I’m comfortable there, am raising my children there, and have more friends there than I do in PA, I’m only now starting to realize that it really might be my home.

When I leave here, I’m going home (to Silver Spring). Then I’ll want to go home (to Lansdale). Then I’ll be being here (at home in OC).

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