27 Feb 2013

and I love it!

Yes, it took me twice as long as normal to get home from my manicure, yes I was driving 45mph on the interstate, yes I skidded a little, yes I have to wear fur-lined boots to keep my feet warm. And, yes, I love all of that!  

I live in a snow globe, 1

Tomorrow I am leaving for a 10-day trip to Lithuania. It’s a big wrap-up to a half a decade filled with lots of travel. That will be the end of big trips for me for a while. I want to stay home, in my own, personal snow globe.

Here are some random musings about home from my journal.

What does it mean to belong in a place, or to belong to a place? I love my old house and my run down village even more than any flashy suburb I’ve ever lived in. At least so far. Which isn’t to put down suburbs. I live in Red Bud

“I think I regret something,” my husband said to me the other day.

“What?”

“That we didn’t move here earlier.”

I’ve wanted to live in Vermont since I was ten years old and we’ve joked about the idea for most of our married life. 

When you think of moving to a place, of living in a place, the things to consider are very different than the things you consider when you think about visiting. Most of your time — my time — is spent at work at at home.

I’m thinking about home, obviously. What home means to me is wherever I live, with my husband, my cats, my things, and my routine. It’s not my grandmother’s house, or even my parents’ house, where I grew up. Those houses belong to strangers now. Home is the house that belongs to me. Now.

I live in a snow globe, 2

Home to me is where I feel like I belong, in my own space, and where I feel like I will want to stay for a few years or even for a few decades. This topic has been dancing around in my head for a few weeks. Why don’t I want to travel now? What’s changed from when I couldn’t wait to run to the airport and hop on a flight to the next job, the next adventure, the next vacation? I feel at home again, and all I want to do is stay. At home.

Could I feel at home in Vilnius? When we rented an apartment a few summers, ago I had a local coffee shop, a local yarn shop, shortcuts to walk home from the city center, a routine, and a place to live. I didn’t have my cats. Or my sense of being at home, even though to me, Lithuania is much less foreign than places that might seem more obvious destinations for an English-speaking American: England, Hawaii, Canada. 

I live in a snow globe, 3

What a home needs:

  • A dwelling
  • Belongings
  • Family
  • Routine
  • Familiarity
  • Pets
  • Peace and quiet
  • Safety
  • Comfort

I wasn’t comfortable in Lithuania. I can’t think of any specific reasons why not. Was it the language? The furniture? The absence of pets? The distance from my family? The unfamiliarity of little things like the size of coins and the color of paper money? What is different in another country that is the same everywhere in America, even with regional differences?

People here, “at home,” know:

  • I drive and own a car
  • There is poverty in the USA
  • What products will be in the grocery stores
  • What drugs will be available over the counter
  • How clothes in the stores will fit
  • Where to find the nearest Starbucks
  • What a quarter and a dime look like

I live in a snow globe, 4

Most of these things sound trivial to me. I find myself feeling ashamed that caring about such minutia makes me into a “typical American” who doesn’t want to be, doesn’t fit in, on foreign soil. Well, with 45 years spent in this country before setting my foot on on the soil of another country (disregarding an afternoon outing to Tijuana when I first moved to San Diego), perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising. At any rate, I have wanted to live in Vermont since I was ten years old and we have talked about moving here for the last two decades. I live where we have family and friends and American food and coffee and East Coast USA accents and New England attitudes, where I can drive to Montreal or Quebec City or the Canadian countryside any time I need to feel like I am abroad.

In the end, Lithuania was just too far away from home to be, well, home. 

And that’s what’s on my mind, as I get ready to wrap up a five year travel extravaganza!

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