This morning, I realized it has been three months since I became homeless.
Circumstances led me to move around a lot growing up. Always the new kid, always making new friends. It is/was sad losing connections with the friends from each place but I was still in elementary school so it was easier to let go and look ahead. My sense of attachment to a home didn't really exist. Eventually I ended up in the Valley - a suburb of LA notorious for pornography and girls like the Kardashians.
The Valley isn't really all that bad. It's lined with palm trees and wide streets with two-story tract homes. I get nostalgia looking back on hot summer days, lurking like lions with neighborhood kids in the tall grassy savannah that was an abandoned lot across the street from my house. I learned how to swim here, spent quiet nights lamenting my teenage angst on rooftops, and threw parties when my parents weren't around. But with all of these memories, it still never really felt like home, or what I thought home was supposed to feel like. It always seemed like I was the odd person out in groups of friends. I floated around in social circles just enough before I started feeling uncomfortable. This was probably the fault of my own insecurities (#teenagelife) more than anything else, but it just didn't feel right.
Enter: San Francisco.
After high school I left Los Angeles and went further up the coast to find myself in the Bay Area. College can be such a formative experience because you're removed from relationships that you make out of circumstance (growing up in the same area, being in the same school, etc.) and are surrounded by people who, for the most part, are there for similar interests. You have the opportunity to figure out what you do and do not like and have more freedom with who you spend time with. I spent the next seven years connecting with incredible people who were involved in the arts, who value progress, who prioritize brunch and waiting in really long lines (jk, sorta, not really). I love San Francisco: its smelly streets, its eclectic businesses, the graffiti on the walls. For me, San Francisco was late night dancing at F8 and early morning sunrises on the balcony. It was drinking wine with Nicole while watching (edit: sleeping through) Chewing Gum, drawing butts with Sonia, and crafting with Lizzie. I finally felt at home. Then...
Enter: Remote Year.
A gnawing emptiness had grown in my gut. In true quarter-life crisis form, I quit my jobs and moved out of my apartment to #findmyself2017. Being in a rut deserves its own dedicated reflection piece, so we'll fast forward to driving through the Olympic National Forest with Tyler one day and then hopping on a plane to Croatia two weeks later.
No lease, no apartment, no physical home-- again. Context: I joined a company called Remote Year, which had doubled their Admissions Team in a matter of weeks. All of the new hires threw ourselves into an unknown environment days after signing our contracts.
It was toward the second leg of our time in Croatia during a balmy evening sunset when I was sitting with another RY newb, Connor, while he played guitar.
"All of my friends back home are telling me how brave I am, how they wouldn't be able to do what we did. Did you have to think about this?"
"Not at all."
Apparently, it takes a certain kind of psycho to leave everything behind at the drop of a hat. We were all that kind of psycho. Even though these psychos come from all different backgrounds, have different stories and friends, we smashed into each other's realities and connected on impact. I love them and all their psycho-ness (translate: openness). Each person is uniquely and brilliantly him/herself, acting as one crucial piece to the Admissions family puzzle. I've never felt so at home without being "at home." Then, it smacked me in the face as I tripped running downstairs. Getting up from the cold, granite landing, reaching for my phone to report about my idiocy with my fellow psychos, I realized: home isn't where you are, or a physical place at all. Home is a state of being. Home is the warm comfort of being surrounded by your people, the freedom of being yourself, and being present in that feeling to enjoy it. I'm such a friggin' ding dong because I've always heard the phrase, "home is where the heart is," but it's an entirely different story experiencing it. These people have my heart. Being with them is being at home. In San Francisco I was comfortable, but my purpose was missing. It took taking a step off the ledge to find the home I was looking for (har har get it, step, falling, stairs, ha, okay).
This morning, I realized it has been three months since I first found my home.