In March of 2020, we abruptly left our home in New York City for three months to escape to Long Island in hopes of dodging the uncertain beginnings of the Covid pandemic. We eagerly sought to tuck ourselves in a safe haven away from the anticipated looming dangers of the pandemic outbreak. After this escape to the burbs, we returned home for two weeks before packing our bags once again to embark on a road trip that unexpectedly carried us for ten glorious months as we explored the USA. After this unforgettable experience, we returned to our New York City apartment for three months before hitting the road once more for three more weeks as we made our way to California, our new home state. For our first four months in San Diego, we stayed in a temporary rental. Last week, we moved again. This time, I anticipate planting ourselves for quite a while.
When I look back at how much we bounced around for the past twenty-one months I am left in disbelief by how often we moved, how many beds we slept in, how many homes we called home, and how many times we packed and unpacked our suitcases. For almost two years we lived free-spirited lives, ignoring all social constructs and defying the norms. Still, no matter where we slept, we always felt at home. Together we redefined how “home” is defined by most. For us, we learned, that home is wherever we were together.
Slowly reality began to trickle in. Schools resumed normal operations. Businesses were beginning to operate as usual. As parents, we began to believe that it was time to give our children stability. But what is stability? I struggle with this concept. I continue to vacillate between wanting to plant our roots in order to resume a “normal” life again while yearning to continue living an unscripted life with just my husband and children. When it was just the five of us, I felt more stable than ever. However, eventually, we succumbed to normalcy and here we are, almost two years later, establishing one central place to call home.
I miss our days on the road; five pioneers discovering new territories together as we saught daily adventures. We had no distractions but the calls of nature which mesmerized us on a regular basis. We had time. So much time. I have never felt so liberated. We were free to wander as we pleased with no major restrictions because the world was too busy trying to figure itself out. I never found myself missing our daily routine or even our NYC apartment that was our home for eleven years. Instead, I quickly fell into the groove of having zero attachments. I didn’t need closets full of clothes, or dozens of shoes, or a house full of stuff. All that mattered during our escapades on the road was keeping our children safe, healthy, and making the best of a grim global situation. We were able to master this goal out of one suitcase for months at a time.
Here we are almost two years later in a new city, across the country, and in a new permanent home. Don’t get me wrong, I love our new home. I spent the last three months completely immersed in building this home so that we could make new memories in it. But with this home comes attachments and responsibilities that I really could do without. I find myself staring into my new walk-in closet, wondering how I went from being perfectly content living out of a suitcase to designing a spacious closet that can hold more clothes than I’ll ever need. Our new home is beautiful. Every corner has been touched by my creative input to make it ours. I am grateful to live in this home. Honestly though, despite all these realizations, I find myself conflicted. Being without a permanent home for two years proved to be more empowering and fulfilling than any plot of land you can dangle before me. I miss the road. I miss breaking boundaries and living an unordinary life. How we went from living like gypsies (ok, maybe more like glam gypsies) to living like the Joneses I haven’t quite figured out.
The past three months have been spent with laser precision focused solely on getting this house ready for our children. Nature’s call has been a faint whisper, one I have repeatedly ignored. Time slipped through my grasp over these past few months with days melting into nights. I take pride in what I have accomplished in such a short period of time. Many have told me it was an impossible undertaking. Despite all the accolades and beautiful design of our new abode, I sorely miss our days floating around, when each day was a new adventure, a new experience, a new beginning. It’s been one week since we moved into our new, permanent home. I am thrilled to see the results of all our hard work and executed vision slowly unfold. I must be transparent though – I often see our car parked in the driveway and fantasize about throwing our suitcases in the trunk, filling up the tank, and just driving for countless miles.
Home is where you are, in your heart and mind. You can be anywhere and everywhere and be home. I am having a hard time shifting from the evolution of home being everywhere to being confined to a home inside these walls we have built. Something about owning a home makes me feel ordinary again. That’s a word I don’t like being associated with. So, if I am not on the road, I guess my next step is to live an unordinary life within the home we built. That’s a whole other blog post.
Our children have been exceptionally resilient. They love the new space we created yet have expressed that it doesn’t feel like home so far since we have not been in it long enough. So is “home” defined by units of time? To me, home is anywhere as long as I am with them. To them, home is anywhere that you settle in for a long period of time. I wonder, years from now, how they will reflect back on their experiences for the past two years. Do they secretly miss life on the road as much as I do? Or do they crave comfort in long-term housing? Thus far, they have only expressed positive feedback on the aesthetics of our new house. Do they want to plant themselves in one space again for a long period of time? I have asked them, they seem to be as confused as I am.
Two years is a long time, but we all know how quickly it passes. Twenty-one months of bed-hopping throughout cities has become a blur in my mind but the euphoric feeling of regular explorations and daily encounters with the unknown remain crystal clear. We shared unforgettable experiences that can never be relived. Is it really better to rest our heads on one pillow for years?
My honest response is no. And yes. When you have children in their teens, who are changing at lightning speed pace and crave social interactions, there is a need to hunker down and let them experience relationships, challenges, and routine. But, if you have toddlers or elementary school-aged children, or no children, I say, pack your car and drive for as far and long as you can until life pulls you back to your driveway.
For me, it’s a no-brainer; when our children are off to college, my husband and I will return to a life of living like Airbnb groupies, jumping from house to house and city to city. The calling is too hard to ignore. In fact, I hear its calls every day as I sit back attempting to admire our new home. For now, I’ll stay put for my children and focus on creating a warm, loving environment for them in this one space. However, when they are off to their adult lives, I’ll be off to Route 66 with the wind in my hair, music blaring, with no plan, and mostly, no attachments. Yet, even then, I’ll be home.