“No Place Like Home”: Searching for Answers on the Road
“There’s no place like home.”
I totally agree with this saccharine sentiment from my favorite film growing up, the first movie I watched all the way through, Wizard of Oz. Yet I’m continually maddened by the complexity of Home, because for much of my life, I never felt quite at home, I never felt quite like I belonged, I never felt like the world made sense. It’s been a complicated relationship with the world and will continue to be, but in this moment, I am as committed to trying to understand this world, trying to understand myself, than ever.
In June and July, my partner and I went on our belated honeymoon: a 35-day, 8,200-mile cross country road trip across much of the U.S. Because we’re multitaskers with anxiety, we decided to structure it around potential cities to relocate. Two birds, one road trip.
Due to fires, naughty rent prices and naughtier landlords, an unceasing drought and mounting exhaustion, we both felt like we needed to get out of Los Angeles. We wanted to start over. No wonder reboots are so popular: starting over is so goddamn alluring. The illusion of a “perfect” time or place or setting or story is a powerful one.
What we found out on our trip was that we loved every city. Or rather, we could find what we loved about every city, we could find good and honest people wherever we met, and that was invigorating and inspiring. Every city was full of stories and on a few magical occasions, we found ourselves enmeshed within the fabric of those stories rather than voyeurs.
No city’s constituents marketed itself better than Nashville (no city was more desperate or friendly). No city was more bipolar and intoxicating than Pittsburgh. No city initially felt more like us than Buffalo and that was confusing. No city pissed us off more than Portland. No city felt right.
At a slightly disappointing cocktail bar in Portland, we realized we were overthinking all of this. (Big surprise.) We realized that it doesn’t matter where we live as long as we’re with each other. We realized that every city in this country and the world is suffering from the effects of climate change, gentrification and segregation. We realized that every city is slowly becoming the same. This is saddening and not particularly surprising; it is the fallout from globalization.
After mulling over that existential crisis for a moment, fretting over our future children and finishing our mediocre cocktail, we traveled further. Yes, we needed to get out of L.A. We needed to because we needed adventure again, we needed to escape. But when we’re at our best (around 44% of the time), Lili and I make adventures wherever we go.
It’s so tempting to leave, to go out there, to reinvent myself, to be New again. I’ve always thrived as the new guy and faltered whenever my identity calcified within my surroundings. Whenever I became what I felt was needed, rather than be who I am, which is always what is needed from us.
I always have a hard time believing that people give a shit about me — but this is a defense mechanism to keep people from doing exactly that. There is so much love in my life, but my anxiety, uncertainty and fear for the future has often clouded my vision.
Lili and I have built a life here, we have built a family. Now it’s time to build a community. L.A. is as far from perfect as every other city out there, but L.A. remains the site for our continued adventures to come. We have unfinished business here. We have friends and family that we love and appreciate and we are going to try to do a better job of loving and appreciating them going forward. Lili and I belong together and we have a responsibility to help make this world a place where everyone belongs.