“Each man’s life represents a road toward himself.” – Hermann Hesse
There’s something about standing at a crossroads that brings all of your sh*t to the surface. Or, at least all of mine.
One of my favorite singer/songwriters, India.Arie, sings in one of her songs about heading across the globe only to find out that all she needed to know was within her all along. Well, sure … But then where do you go? You know, after you’ve found out that it’s all within you, where do you choose to live- across the globe, or in a place you call home? And if you choose the ladder, where is that exactly?
My journey of pulling geographicals as a means of self discovery (or compulsive avoidance) began when I was only six years old. It was then that my mother yanked me out of the center of the universe, otherwise known as Manhattan, to Princeton, New Jersey, for a job relocation (what kind of company someone OUT of manhattan for WORK? One of my many unanswered questions.) Anyways, I bounced back and forth from NYC visiting friends from preschool (the bonds of kindergarten knew no distance) until I was 13, when my mother and I relocated to Houston, Texas. In Princeton I had tried my luck at becoming a more athletic girl – something I used to hide the face that I secretly fantasized about wearing the latest Steve madden platforms to P.E. Upon arrival in Houston, I went into full fledged chameleon mode again when I realized my new Episcopalian school was home to the most beautiful 13 year old women I’ve seen to this day. After spending my first day of class scrambling to figure out how on earth I would return the next day and live up to such gorgeous and glamorous expectations, I expressed my distress to my mother:
“How was your first day?” she asked.
“Mom,” I said. “I’m a minority.”
“Why? Because you’re Jewish?” she inquired.
“No mom. Because I’m a brunette.”
I decided then to begin a series of appointments for partial highlights that had me fully blonde by my early high school years. My hair grew bigger at the top and my eyelashes bathed in copius amounts of
Mascara. By the time I arrived in college, I was introducing myself as “being from Texas” and I identified with all things big, beautiful, and hyper-girly. After a move to London halfway through my college career opened my eyes to a new way of life, I returned to Boston to continue my journey of finding the home within. Content with my surroundings, I still felt like I didn’t know where exactly I belonged – an itch to go back to where it all began. Because of my many moves, I’ve had a tendency to think of myself as separate from other people, unable to identify with being from one single place or having pride in one particular element of national identity. I mean, you don’t exactly meet a lot of Manhattan born ex-members of The Jewish Center in Princeton New Jersey who moved to Texas only to regularly open chapel with a sung prayer at her episcopalian middle school. But, you don’t exactly meet a lot of people like anyone else
either. Must be because we’re all different.
My not being able to fit neatly into a box has had me secretly searching to find a box that I fit into ever since I left New York at six. I recently moved to back to New York City on a whim with high hopes that I would finally be able to reclaim being a New Yorker and have just one place to put in the “hometown” section of my Facebook page. I mean, there were other reasons too, but that was a big one.
But why would I do that? Why would erase everything that’s happened between age six and twenty three just to squish myself into something so much smaller than I actually am?
I have been granted the power of choice over where I’d like to spend the next several months or longer – in Boston, NY, or elsewhere. As I spend these next few days deliberating over where home will be for now, I only pray to remember that home is inside me, and so are all of my answers to the question of where I belong.
(Update: I am shipping back to Boston tomorrow! Can’t wait to be back in the place I call home and visit this big apple often as I’ll be helping my best friend plan her wedding!)