After 26 years, a place to call my own

Growing up in Long Valley, a small, one-traffic-light town in northwestern New Jersey, I had a real penchant for sleeping out.

No, not like that, but it seemed like in a effort to quell my boredom and my discomfort with being in yet another new home (and one that was constantly in jeopardy as that one sat on the market for years), I would often sleep at friends’ houses, where I felt more comfortable and more at peace than I did in my own bed.

A glimpse inside my humble abode.

Continue reading “After 26 years, a place to call my own”

The Weight of The World

“How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life… you start with the little things. The shelves, the drawers, the knickknacks, then you start adding larger stuff. Clothes, tabletop appliances, lamps, your TV… the backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. You go bigger. Your couch, your car, your home… I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends, folks around the office… and then you move into the people you trust with your most intimate secrets. Your brothers, your sisters, your children, your parents and finally your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, your girlfriend. You get them into that backpack, feel the weight of that bag. Make no mistake your relationships are the heaviest components in your life. All those negotiations and arguments and secrets, the compromises. The slower we move the faster we die. Make no mistake, moving is living. Some animals were meant to carry each other to live symbiotically over a lifetime. Star crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not swans. We are sharks.”

Up In The Air (2009)

I’m not sure if I can ever say it quite so eloquently or quite so sadly as George Clooney did when he played Ryan Bingham in “Up In The Air,” but after the last few days in the hoopla of the final and rather surprising selling of my house, not the only house I’ve ever lived in but certainly the most significant, I can say that I agree with our handsome friend.

Traveling is a funny thing. When we’re on the road, we depend on the little we have on our backs. Which is probably why many of us sweat wondering what we’ve forgotten, double-checking for our phones and our keys and our credit cards and if you’re me, a pair of ear plugs and extra underwear. By the end of a trip, as much as I always love the destination I had the pleasure of visiting, I’m always a little relieved to be free of this stress and to be back at my house, my house, where everything is where I put it and everything is comfortable, familiar, and ordinary. In a life of uncertainties and insanity, it is this ordinary, this average, that is effortlessly grounding. 

However, when you have to give the place you live to someone else, a total stranger, your life is at ends with itself. When I think about someone else who I don’t know and never will know sitting in the exact place I’m sitting in now, closing a broken window that is mine and running down hallways that are mine and stumbling into doorways drunk that are mine, it makes me pretty uneasy.

Unfortunately, this is the way of the world. I’m a 22-year-old postgrad living in my mother’s house so quite honestly, I have zero say in the matter, and rightly so. I can’t make my family and my childhood toys stay in a place that I would desperately love to move out of just so that I can always know that they are there, my life, my ordinary, waiting patiently for my return on a particularly gloomy weekend.

It’s at this point where we have to ask ourselves: How much do I weigh? When your house is gone, when your life is gone, you have to restart. You have to look at your life and arm yourself with what items, what memories, and what people matter, and you have to create a new home within yourself.

And this is travel. When scavenging the open road, we don’t have our comfy beds and our mother’s cooking and the safety of our locked windows at night. Instead, we will stay in unfriendly rooms with people we will never see again and we will pack our toothbrushes up after using them. In this way, what we do in our travel is what we must do in life when it is time to reevaluate, move on, and restart. We create homes inside ourselves while packing as little as we can possibly fit into our patched backpacks.


Because, as always, for an impenetrable shield, stand inside yourself. 

Home is Where… You Are.

Okay, don’t laugh, but throughout my entire life, I have been telling myself that I will probably live in New Jersey. Most likely, I would live in the tri-state area, work in New York City, all the meanwhile staying near my family and friends and college. Doesn’t sound too shabby, right?

WRONG. Well, maybe for me. Studying abroad does a funny thing to you (among many others)- it teaches you that you don’t have to be anywhere. The world does not crumble away to nothing when you leave, and even your mother will get along just fine without you. All of a sudden, the world feels much more accessible.

And this leads to the prospect of being able to live anywhere. Spend a few years hanging out in Dublin? Why not. Working out of Madrid for awhile? Bring it on. Chill in Portugal for a little bit? Can’t think of a reason not to.

On the one hand, this is a scary thought. Suddenly, there are an obscene amount of options and things to do and you are no longer limited by something as mundane as a country boundaryFrom now until forever, the world will be yours, not only a place to visit, but a place to  live.