Last weekend, a friend of my friend Marcus posed a tough question over lunch that unintentionally succeeded in stumping me.
I thought about it for a few moments. I had no idea. I’d become accustomed to saying New York City, but since I sold my apartment there three years ago, it just hasn’t felt accurate. And now that I’m in the process of selling my place in Buenos Aires, it doesn’t feel right to call that home either.
“Home is Melbourne,” Marcus offered. “Because it’s the place you always come back to.”
That was a good point — and a sweet one, too. For the last two years, it’s been the closest thing I’ve had to home. And I do keep coming back. But as much as I adore Melbourne, and as beautiful as the homes are here, it’s never felt like home to me. Ditto, Bangkok. But I felt like I had to say something.
“Home is wherever I’m living at the moment — so right now, that would be South Yarra in Melbourne,” I finally responded, though I hadn’t quite satisfied my own yearning to know.
Where is home?
I’d spent nearly five days pondering this question when I found myself talking to Sebastian, a friend back in BA to whom I haven’t spoken since my final days in Bangkok last December. In catching up with him over the course of an hour, I never got around to telling him where I am at the moment. Eventually, he got around to it for me.
“Ahora estas en Australia?”
“Si, Melbourne. Hasta Abril.”
“Y despues de Abril?”
“No se. Bangkok? Berlin? Nueva York? Sidney? Londres? Sudafrica? El mundo es abierto a mi!”
Que lindo vivir asiiiiiiii!!!!!! Quiero una vida asiiiiiiii!!!!!”
Really? He wants my life? And I had just been thinking how good he has it. Hes a gainfully employed attorney living in one place — even if it is Buenos Aires! At least he had structure, a regular paycheck and a bed of his own, a few of the things my life has been missing since I left BA.
Shortly after, I got a text message from Nathan, whom I met in Melbourne two years ago. He’s been living a life very similar to mine for the past three years, never staying in one place for more than a month. He just returned from Mexico and Guatemala and will be staying in Melbourne for a while. He called himself “blessed to b travellin alot.” When I met him he was plotting a trip to East Africa. At the time, I was still set on sticking around Melbourne permanently. East Africa sounded kind of dreadful to me, and Southeast Asia couldn’t have been further from my mind. Who knew we’d end up leading somewhat parallel lives?
About an hour later, I ran into Peter, whom I hadn’t seen since the “mooning” contest (Don’t ask!) at the Laird several weeks ago. He was with a friend, and as he explained my peripatetic lifestyle by way of introducing me, I could have sworn I saw stars twinkling in both of their eyes — not because of me, of course, but because of the life I lead.
How strange, I thought to myself as I walked away, still blinded by the twinkling. I could have sworn they were the lucky ones, living, working and, if they were lucky, loving in one place. Lately, I’ve been thinking I’d like to have me some of that again. I’ve never really gotten used to people viewing my life through their own rose-colored glasses, but it’s become increasingly odd since I’ve taken mine off. Truth be told, those specs have been sitting on the shelf for about a year, and I’m only now not having to squint without them.
With my newfound clarity of vision, I’ve actually begun toying with the idea of going back to New York City and the life I used to lead there. It’s not so much that I miss the regular paychecks, having a permanent residence and the comfort of a daily routine (though I could probably use all of the above); it’s more what living on the road has done to my perception of time. My life seems to have gotten shorter!
Time flies when you’re having fun indeed, but it dashes by even more rapidly when you’re more aware of its passage due to weekly rental fees and regular visa renewals. I’m nearly two-thirds through my first tourist-visa cycle in Australia, which is the same as saying I’ve been here for almost two months. I’m guess I’m tired of looking at it both ways (and always counting those 90-, 60- and 30-day visa cycles, which I’ve been doing since I moved to BA six and a half years ago). That just makes it seem even more like I just arrived yesterday.
It also means I’m at the halfway point to where I need to decide where I want to be next. More time in Australia? Back to Bangkok? Berlin? London? South Africa? That might make me the luckiest guy in the world to some, but part of me is hoping that wherever I end up laying my hat next time, I can finally call home.
Five Great Songs About What I’m Looking For Now
“Home” Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
“Home” Leona Naess
“Home” Stephanie Mills
“Home” Simply Red
“Home and Dry” Pet Shop Boys