Home is a peculiar idea. We all of course have our own ways of defining it. Some people tie home to a specific geographic place, like their hometown. Others define the concept more as a feeling— for example, when you’re financially in a stable and worry-free place. Or when you feel socially fulfilled and secure, surrounded by close friends and family.
For me, personally, while all of those are elements are certainly true, when I reflect on my past three years living here in Wobbleville, those descriptors –if I really think hard about it– don’t capture the essence of “Home” for me. I’ve felt very much at home these past three years but financially, they have been the most precarious of my entire life. I have definitely never been financially poorer than I currently am right now, that’s for sure. And as for friends and family, well– Bagel’s here with me. So that certainly helps. But when I spent my year abroad in Bageltopia, where we first met all those years ago, that was unequivocally not home, despite the fact that she was around a lot. The weather was scorching hot and incredibly humid. Us Wobbles are not built for Bageltopian weather. It was rough.
So why have I felt so at home here in Wobbleville these past few years? Though I have been lucky to make a couple good friends here through Meetup, we really only see each other several times a year. And again, I’m super financially poor here. Maybe not quite in dire straits, but definitely on my way there if things keep degenerating at their current pace.
Yet, Wobbleville feels like home to me emotionally. First– the weather. Omg, the weather. You really don’t think this is a big deal until it is. When I step outside and the air feels cool and crisp, that makes me feel good. No bustling traffic or homeless people on every street corner. Just quiet, idyllic countryside. To be fair, Wobbleville is very similar to my own hometown in terms of geography, climate, and demographic composition. Lots of white people. Tons of churches. No litter anywhere. People are not rich here but we’re solid salt-of-the-earth people with our salt-of-the-earth ways. No snobbish urban coastal elitism here.
The other thing is the general pace of life. It’s chill and relaxed. If I want to go anywhere, I just hop in the Bagelmobile and drive there. No running to the metro station to try to catch a train. No hustling and bustling down busy, crowded sidewalks which smell like urine and marijuana. Here, the car is king. (Sorry, environment! No mass transit here!) And that total freedom to go anywhere at any time whenever I want is a big part of why I feel like this is home. I feel like my self-centered egotism is fulfilled here. Do you taste that? That’s the taste of freedom.
For me, “home” isn’t about friends or family. Or about financial security. (Though, again, those are immensely important and I’d prefer to have both than to not.) But for me, personally, home is somewhere I feel comfortable with my daily life routines. It’s somewhere that I enjoy the weather and can easily get the food I like to eat (like Jersey Mike’s!). And it’s a place where I can easily talk to my neighbors about whatever interests me and us. Interestingly, back in my college days (eons ago), I found myself often offending people left and right with my conversation and thoughts. It wasn’t even deliberate; it just happened. But now, when I reflect on it more, I think that was a consequence of them. Not me. They were people who didn’t share my values. And so conversation was incredibly tough.
(But to fair, I have certainly offended here in Wobbleville as well; the proportion of strike-outs has just been far smaller.)
Here, in Wobbleville though, I’m largely surrounded by people much less fragile who similarly share my values, especially out in the country away from the city center and younger university populations. And honestly, that’s made all the difference. Home is where you can be yourself without being socially ostracized and punished for it. Home is where you feel comfortable.