Home Is Where the Holiday Is

A funny thing happens after you leave your parents house and go off to college or out into the world to find whatever needs finding. You start making connections with people and places that aren’t familiar, that aren’t necessarily where you grew up and learned how to be you. Most people go through some sort of transition, often in their twenties, where home base may turn out to be far away from the original. Now more than ever, I don’t have a short answer for where home base is. When people ask me where I’m from, I have no idea where to start. “Well I was born in New Orleans, but I grew up in Colorado until we moved back to Louisiana when I was 16.” “Why did you move back?” “Oh well, my dad died when we were living in Colorado. But then my mom met and fell in love with someone in Louisiana so we moved back. But then THAT GUY died too. *Pause for uncomfortable silence and obligatory “Sorry to hear that.” “Oh my gosh I’m sorry to hear that!” “It’s cool. She ended up falling in love a third time and has remarried again! But lately they’ve been in Colorado, where my moms family is.” “So why are you in California?” “Oh, well I came out here to dog-sit for my sisters in-laws but then I became increasingly ill and have kinda just been living on their couch since September.” “Sick with what?” “How much time do you have?”

My life has never really had a lot of stability. Moving in the middle of high school from Colorado to Louisiana kind of threw everything off. I attended three different high schools and once in college, like most kids, we moved every year. I studied abroad one semester in France where my home was the tiniest room I’d ever lived in, but it was completely comfortable and adequate. I loved it. I spent summers in New York where my brother’s apartment on Lexington was home. After college I moved to New Orleans and got a grown-up job. I finally had an apartment I loved (huge windows) and I lived alone, which I really treasured. But I only had it for 6 months. Getting sick in January, riding in the backseat of my parents car after that day in the hospital, something told me I wouldn’t be in my own home for a long time. And that certainly turned out to be true. Since that night, nearly two years ago, I’ve been living in other people’s houses. I’m lucky I have so many people willing to host me. But truthfully, I dream of the day when I can have home base back. When I can have things the way I want them. When I’m not stepping on anyones toes or breaking whatever house guidelines there are. Living with people is tough at best. And that’s the case with most everyone. If I want the comfort of “home” I have to go inward. Feel who I am, believe in what I’m doing, and trust that I am where I’m supposed to be. Isn’t that the comfort of “home” after all? A place that knows and understands you, a constant among change, a softness where the world is hard.

I remember thinking the universe was playing a cruel joke on me. Finally after years of bouncing around, dealing with the work of roommates and compromise and “Who ate my burrito?!” texts, I had my own place. I was settled. Just me and Monty. I hung curtains and picked out an area rug and was finally living in a space I totally identified with. I remember picking out decorative pillows thinking, “Only an adult buys decorative pillows!” Maybe it’s a desire among the youngest in families, to finally feel like an adult. I don’t know, but I was on my own and that felt really really good. And then, it was gone. As much as I loved the independence, I had to let it go, because being sick didn’t allow me that self-sufficiency I had earned anymore. I would have to learn to rely on others, to ask for help, and to be appreciative even if I felt bitter. It’s been one of the harder lessons to learn among all this–Humbling at best. Turning bitterness into gratitude is like trying to fold a fitted sheet- I’ve heard it’s possible, but I’m rarely able to do it. They’re both art-forms I am still trying to master.

So now here I sit in Colorado, in the town I grew up in, at my grandmas house. It still has the familiar smells (somewhere between a library and church) and familiar sights (the picture of me from kindergarten on the great wall of grand children.) and the same rules (Everyone write your name on your cup and drink out of the same one!) Is this home? Or is it California? Or New Orleans? Well, for the next week or two, it’s here. Where my siblings and nieces will shuffle in from all over America and make lots of noise and pull lots of pranks and inevitably play a game of monopoly that may or may not turn ugly. Where we’ll eat big meals and fight over who my moms favorite is and sing songs off-key around my brother Doug playing piano. There will be dogs and babies and gifts that nobody needs. But the best part about love is, it doesn’t need a certain city or house to flourish. It can grow anywhere. I suppose that’s another art-form I’m attempting to master. And I guess where love grows, is where I’ll call home. This Christmas, it’s Colorado.

Health, Happiness, and Happy Holidays– Wherever Home Is.

For Some Reason, This Gem Is Still on the Wall.
I’m going to use this pose in all my pictures. .

“Home is where you can say whatever you want, because nobody listens to you anyway.” :)

-Joe Moore

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18 thoughts on “Home Is Where the Holiday Is

  1. I love the analogy about bitterness and the fitted sheet! Very awesome! i hope that you did have a great christmas. Perhaps your home isn’t a geographic location. Maybe home is where-ever Monty is. I know that is how I feel about Oz and my dog. Although having the geographic location makes everything feel stable. Enjoy this time with family!! Lots of love!!

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  2. Merry Christmas! I feel the same way sometimes about when people ask me where I’m from.. my dad (and step-dad) are military so we moved a lot. I never know if I’m supposed to say where I was born, where I grew up or where I was before I moved to my specific location. Anyway, Merry Christmas! I hope you have a great time with your family.

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  3. Nice post, Mary. I’m not sick (well, some would argue I have mental issues) but I enjoy your writing and you’re a sharp cookie. Your mom and many dads did a great job raising you.

    I like and agree with the notion that home is where the love is. Have a great Christmas! I’m laughing right now about your Monopoly game…in our family, it’s Phase 10 and there’s NO question that it’ll turn ugly! lol!

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  4. It is hard to not be bitter about things, why the hell did we get so sick and have to take so many pills! Thank you for some life lessons. I have my doggie Cuda, still miss my doggie Jazzy after she passed away in July. Mary, you are wonderful. I wish you and Monty and your crazy loving family Happy Holidays!

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  5. This is fabulous. I can relate to not knowing where to tell people you’re from — I always just say “oh, around” in order to pretend I’m worldly and brimming with mystique.

    In reality, I’m from a bunch of small towns in Newfoundland and a bunch of small towns in Ontario. The former, to me, sounds better.

    Rock on and have a merry Christmas!

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  6. What a beautiful post :-) I never know what to say when people ask where I’m from either (it’s between Wales, Scotland, and England), so I just say I’m British. I hope you have a great Christmas!

    PS: Your post reminded me of this quote by Jerry Spinelli: “Home is everything you can walk to.”

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