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How to be Home

…no matter where you go, you’re leaving behind a dependable life brimming with dependable people on dependable schedules.

Story by Leslie Finlay - ljf5017@gmail.com Photos by Icarus Blake Video by Citizen Brooklyn
Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Moving away requires patience and courage, often to a degree you may not be entirely prepared for. Whether relocating for a job, moving abroad, backpacking until you run out of money… we each must demonstrate the stamina to take the risk, but also the nerve to not be disappointed with what we encounter, to not long for what we left behind.

Some days it pours from the moment I wake up. But before opening my eyes, the rain slapping the tin overhang could just as well be the rhythmic, steady click-click-click of drizzle coating the air conditioning unit balanced out the window of the old apartment, halfway around the world. But I’ve been away for long enough to know that it is not. And I’ve been away for long enough to know that on some days, just some, the thrill and deliciousness of navigating this newness, this confusion, this excitement that I came for will be, well, damp.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

These are the days that I miss home; the trusty dependableness of it all, the level of control I felt, predictability. But having the courage to get up and go was just the beginning. It takes an ongoing emotional toll to keep from romanticizing our past lives too much, to let go of the places we craved to leave. All of those sentiments that once made my skin crawl, but for which heightened affection exists, of course, in retrospect.

Because largely, no matter where you go, you’re leaving behind a dependable life brimming with dependable people on dependable schedules. I boasted a steady income and a gorgeous apartment, and friends who each have kept a piece of my heart. But I stirred, kept awake at night by a monotony, knowing that I was not in the right place. I was suffocated by a fear that when I woke up it could be an identical day, three years later. So I left home. I left stability, familiarity. I left people who meant everything to me. I left fresh bagels.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

We all left home. But, New York City wasn’t always home. Once, home was the front lawn in a college town, speakers resting on an upended beer pong table blasting the playlist that still brings me back to that run-down house, worn from years of kegs across its threshold and strangers sleeping on the floor. Home was one-liter boxes of wine and cigarettes littered across a riverbank, the Andalucian accent and wafts of Moroccan hookah cutting the breeze as I napped in the afternoon sun. It was the living room couch of an apartment with no lock to the front door, where I once was in love. It was the basement of my high school best friend when we were moody teenagers with so much time and beauty ahead of us, ignorant to all the magnificent heartbreak and adventure we would face and overcome, still free from the steady decay of cynicism.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Home will be new street corners and train cars and dimly lit bars. It will be midday G-Chats with friends dotted across continents and handwritten letters addressed to bars, because you know your friends will be there, even if you aren’t sure where they’re living these days. It will be rooftops overlooking a new city, and the moment of silence you breathe in before these new people you love, your new family, tear up the stairs, an afternoon’s supply of beer in hand. It will be places revisited, homes we’ll take up for a second go. It will be the carefully mapped itinerary I’ll tackle with the person who shares my dream.

Home is laughter on humid train station platforms. Home is fireworks shot off in the streets and hopelessly misunderstood directions and breakfasts of burnt eggs and toast. Home is the people who remind you of who you are.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

When we each got on that airplane, packed up that car, departed that city—our lives warped into a foreign film with no subtitles. We threw it our captivation, entranced and confused, but breathless as the story itself unfolded rather nonsensically. Onlookers expressed their own curiosity at our decision, but we are charmed by the uncertainty, the difficulty—we explain ourselves to no one. But as it continues, as the story arches rise and fall, scenes develop and we have no idea what is going on. Well, maybe we should have stuck with something more familiar after all. A film we already had at home. Even if we’d leafed through that collection a dozen times and found nothing that we had wanted to see.

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And then, all of a sudden, the story makes all of the sense in the world. Even if we were stuck rooting around for something familiar, our narrative continued right under our noses; it didn’t wait for us to understand, it just kept building all along. We just hadn’t seen the plot growing while so intent on reciting old scripts. No matter where on earth we are, every day we smile, plan, pursue our dreams. We drink too much, lose sleep. We turn off our phones and tune the world out to bad Netflix movies. We worry, we risk, we take the harrowing, damning chances to give all of ourselves to everything we do, to everyone we love, regardless of what we get in return. And no matter how we may try and resist, every day we are home.

One Response to “How to be Home”

  1. Adam Greenberg says:

    well put.