Wednesday, July 10, 2013
There is a scene in Eat, Pray, Love where they're discussing how every city has a word. I don't know if it's that simple. I think cities are like people and they're far too complex to be defined in one word. But I think, like the people they are comprised of, they can be defined by several. When you a find a city that feels like home, it's because you share the same words. It's a language the streets speak to you, calling you by your secret name. A universal name you share with everyone else who chooses to live in that city not because of birth or convenience but because it speaks to them.
Of course, home is where the people you love live. When you're younger and living wherever your parents choose to, you find people that are your people -- sometimes lots of them. Most of the time though, those people are your friends because of proximity and some shared interests. Not because they share your words. There's only a few who become like family, and those chosen few are the ones you speak your language.
When you have the opportunity to choose your own home, you seek out the city that shares your words and, by extension, the people who do. The city you choose is filled with so many more opportunities for relationships because there's so many other people responding to the same call you are.
That's why some places never feel like home. The city doesn't know your words and neither do the people living in it. You always feel like an outsider, never comfortable. You can choose to make wherever you are home by committing to life there. You can join communities to try and find your people. But nothing quite compares to arriving in a city and feeling known. It inspires excitement for exploring and a willingness to meet the people there, believing that every stranger could possibly be claimed as part of your tribe. It doesn't feel like putting yourself out there; it feels like collecting pieces of yourself you didn't know were missing.
My experience of California is limited to four visits, but I knew from the first moment I touched down that it was my home. I felt recognized. I used to think I would live in San Diego, but it speaks a language I only wish I did. If I moved there maybe I'd finally become the girl I've been imagining myself as -- healthier, more carefree, capable on all types of boards. I'd have to work to make San Diego's words mine though and maybe I'd feel like an imposter the entire time. Maybe not.
San Francisco, though? That city is speaking my language. I love that it a hub for startups, innovators and visionaries and ambitious people congregate there, while it also promotes compassion. Everywhere you look there is an advertisement calling for equality, acceptance and love. I like that you can want to do big things without compromising on your values. I love that the compassion they have for people extends to animals. For once, restaurants don't punish you for being a vegetarian (a sense I get in lots of restaurants. The vegetarian options suck, yo).
I was there last week to visit my boyfriend, who moved there a little over two months ago. (A sidenote on long distance relationships: All the anticipation that builds when you're separated can cause you to have expectations that are impossible to reach. Like you stop seeing them as human and start seeing them as everything that is missing from your life in your own city. The reality can be disappointing. It took me three days to realize, while we were at dinner with a friend I've known for years, that he speaks my language in the most simple way -- home to me no matter what city we're in.) I was happier there than I have been in any of my years in Orlando, which has never felt like home to me. Time for a relocation.
What place has felt most like home to you? Do you live there?