For global nomad, Bhavana Gesota, the question “Where are you from?” is not an easy one to answer. Are people asking, she wonders, where she was born? Where she lives now? Or, are they asking which passport she carries? Is there a single answer to this single question? Read on…
We challenged YourLifeIsATrip.com writers to tell us about home in 25 words or less. What it means. What it doesn’t mean. Where they feel it. Where they don't. Is it a person? A place? A memory?. And, don’t let the small size fool you — at the heart of each of these very very short essays is a powerful story.
by Nancy King
The phone rang, a welcome break from correcting student essays. “Want to take a road trip to New Mexico?" asked my son. “I’ve got five days off and I haven’t seen you in a while.”
My son. The southwest. Five days of fun. "Of course," I replied.
We spent four days of our visit driving around northern New Mexico, enjoying chile-infused food, appreciating the vast expanse of sky and the changing colors of rock formations sculpted by the wind. The fifth and last day began innocently enough. My son sells houses so our host suggested he visit some properties with a real estate agent. “Want to come?” he asked me.
"Of course," I said. I had no idea of what was to come.
The first house the realtor showed us was old, ugly, and expensive—mouse droppings everywhere. “Good thing I’m not planning to move to Santa Fe,” I thought. The second house looked so forlorn it needed anti-depressants as much as it needed paint. A third house had mirrors everywhere—even on the ceiling in the kitchen. Who would want to live in a place that looked like a brothel?
As we drove away, the realtor said, “There’s a house that just came on the market two days ago. If the owners agree, would you like to take a look at the house?" My son nodded yes. The realtor looked at me. I shrugged. What did I care? Just one more house to look at.
story and photos by Richard Rossner
Life is slippery. Just when I think have it in my grasp, it slithers away like an eel. It twists, writhes and slips from my grip, leaving me empty-handed. And feeling empty in many ways.
That’s when I ache for some place of intense safety and familiarity to regroup.
Johnny Mercer wrote, “Any place I hang my hat is home.” I wonder about people who are that comfortable. Frank Sinatra…George Clooney…the Dalai Lama (if he had a hat). They exude such ease with everything.
I’m not on that list. I’m on the list of people who never feel at home. And I’m not talking about a geographical place. I’m talking about feeling at home in life.
Sure, I’ve accomplished some wonderful things, but it’s all been hit or miss with no mastery. In quiet moments I’m haunted by my sense of ineptitude at navigating something that seems so simple for others.
I recently had the chance to return to my state of origin. No, not the womb as a zygote. New Jersey.
First, I went to the town where I was born. It’s been in an economic slide for decades. Sweet memories I knew of bright Christmas lights gaily strung down the main thoroughfare; the heady smell of popcorn and candy wafting through the glorious department store; summers of big-leafed trees and fat, fuzzy caterpillars; the sweet breezes off the Raritan Bay – they’re gone. Downtown is all bargain discount stores now. The place looks like a dump.
"You have to come down if you want your stuff," Beatrice said. "There's termites under the building and I have to fumigate."
I can't remember what I stored with Beatrice while exiting Los Angeles for rural Kansas , but lately I've been missing certain photos, journals and scripts. In ‘04, I fled after 20 years of trying to make a career and happy love life. My friends begged me not to go:
"You're the last person in the world who should move to Kansas !" said my charming boss.
"One thing I'm hearing about where you're going...No available men," said my handsome therapist.
"You won't be able to find a job. People will see you as an outsider. Like when I moved to Florida ," said a well-meaning friend.