I’m at a party meeting new people hoping they don’t ask me, but I know it is inevitable. We engage in small talk. Someone says something funny, we all laugh. And then someone asks me the question that is supposed to be simple, yet I don’t know how to answer.
“Where are you from?“
I’ve been thinking about how to answer this for days now since we reentered the USA. Outside the USA I would just tell them that we are from the US. If they ask what state, I would say Arizona, just to move the conversation along.
No one wants a story when they ask this question. They are looking for one word, a way to understand a person better. I pause before answering.
“Um, well, I’m staying here right now for about two months. I travel a lot so we don’t really have a place,” I say. Thankfully one of the women in the group knows about our lifestyle from a mutual friend. She rescues me from the blank stares by saying, “Oh, you are the travelers, my mom loves your blog.” It elevates us from the vagabond status.
I’ve tried a few responses to this question and haven’t found anything yet that answers what the person is looking for, a connection, a way to find similarities.
“I’m a digital nomad and travel a lot,” I said once while I was at the gym. This one didn’t work at all. After the blank stares, they started to make playful speculation. Was I in the witness protection program, was I running away from something, was I a gypsy.
Feature Image from Lencois Maranhenses, Brazil
What Makes a H
The first time I felt “home” was in my 30’s. Trin and I had just bought our first house together. The house was nestled in the woods in Pennsylvania. I awoke early one morning and walked down the hallway of the upper floor. Pausing at the top of the stairs I gazed out through the windows of the cathedral ceiling into the lush green woods beyond. It was beautiful. I felt safe there and maybe the most content I had ever been in my life at that point.
“I am home,” I whispered to the cool morning air.
It wasn’t the actual plywood, tiles or drywall around me that made me feel home. It was the beauty, the acceptance, the love that resided within those walls that gave me the peace of home.
Years ago we sold that house and purchased another one in North Carolina. I loved that one just as much, maybe even more. And then, of course, we sold that house three years ago to travel full-time.
Where is H
Why do we travel?
Looking for a world outside of home
Only to return and discover
That there is no home
To come home to
Because the home we knew
Existed in a different time and place
It is not the same
And we are not the same
We are visitors in someone else’s home now
– Paul E Drecksler, Travel is Life
The Comfort of H
We are currently home. I consider the United States to be my home, but not necessarily any particular state. I’ve lived in four or five of them depending on your definition of “lived in.”
Right now we are in Arizona staying with Trin’s brother Uly and his wife Xandra. Their house is similar in size to the last one we had in North Carolina so there is a familiarity of comfort. But what makes this a home for us are the same things that gave me my first taste of home back in my thirties. There is full acceptance here. The home is full of laughter and love.
It is the kindness. Even the little things like cutting the carrot cake a certain way to make sure I had an extra bit of cream cheese frosting after they found out it was my favorite. It is celebrating each other.
There seems to be a reason for joy every day here.
“Hey, come down it’s time to
“What are we celebrating?” I asked accepting the wine glass handed to me.
“It’s Tuesday,” laughed Xandra. We clinked glasses and began the nightly ritual of preparing and eating a meal together.
Although they have distinct personalities and even striking differences, Trin and his brother Uly are two peas in a pod. Xandra and I are constantly entertained by them and often remark at how lucky we are for having such wonderful men in our lives.
As different as we all may be there is never a feeling of condemnation or that we are a bother to them, something I constantly struggle with – I never want to be a bother. We feel fully welcomed there. It is what I consider “home” if I had to assign it to a house.
What Home Means to me
One could say we are “homeless.” I prefer to call it “houseless.” My home is with Trin. I am at home with our lifestyle and the constant changing of the beauty of the world around us.
Home is where I feel at peace. It is a state of acceptance without judgment. A place of laughter, joy, and kindness. Here in this house in Arizona forgiveness is the default and anger is a distant thought. Everyone in this household looks out for each other and puts each other first. It is a place I can freely share my thoughts if I only knew how. It is a place where I am valued and not an obligation.
What is generally a question that only requires a one- or two-word response just took me a thousand words to answer. That won’t work within a handshake.
Sometimes it’s not about finding your blue door, but making it with our actions towards others.