home away from home

Despite recently leaving for this trip I find myself thinking a lot about the idea of “home” and what it means to feel “at home.” I’ve been starting to understand it in terms of comfort. My thought is that your proximity to “home,” in a given situation, can somehow be expressed by how comfortably you can be yourself. Home itself would then be whatever set of circumstances leaves you completely comfortable to just be exactly who you are- saying whatever, wearing whatever, and farting whenever you want, unhindered by the fear of being judged.

For most, home is likely found in their own space with loved and trusted people nearby. Others surely can’t afford their own space or may not be able to trust those around them. And some might not feel comfortable being themselves no matter where they are or who they’re with. Homelessness, in this sense- no place to comfortably be oneself- is a scary disposition. Thankfully, home is dynamic, and althought it may be difficult to locate at times there is always hope that you will find it, or maybe that it will find you.

I’m lucky. My “home” is uniform enough, with such a bright porch light kept on, that I can venture off, run away, get lost, and still know where to find it. I said goodbye to a living room full of close family after Christmas Dinner at my loving grandmother’s house. My loving aunt Lela gave me a ride to the airport where I flew to Portland to spend a layover with my loving uncle Sonny. I understand how lucky I am to feel at home with extended family.

Then, I walked out to what Sonny calls “the edge of yikes!” For me, by now, leaving home-this magical zone where I can comfortably be myself- is somewhat of a familiar feeling. But even with experience- even knowing that unimaginable rewards lie at the bottom of this “yikes” cliff and even with a thirst for the adventure of taking that plunge- well it still ain’t easy.

But I jumped- off the cliff and out of the comfort zone- falling, falling, falling. Even a fairly relaxing layover on the shores of Waikiki didn’t do much for the discomfort of leaving home. I touched down in Melbourne- uncomfortable, nervous, and excited- not sure what to expect. Enter: the wonderful Jeevi! She’s a first generation Aussie, born just after her parents fled a war torn Sri Lanka. Some years later she and Karl became great friends in UCSD’s International House. Well, a friend of a friend is a friend, they say. Once he put us in email contact my unsure landing at the base of “yikes” turned out to be pretty damn comfy.

Jeevi insisted on picking me up from the airport and I don’t think it took 5 kilometers before I was feeling pretty darn close to home- quickly finding that zone where I could comfortably be myself. On top of that, I was incredibly well taken care of. I had my own room at her folks’ place in Greensborough, a northeastern suburb of Melbourne, and her mom Ang made sure I was very well fed with some of the most amaizng Sri Lankan curries the world has ever known.

The next few days were filled with long walks down city blocks, drives out to pristine ocean beaches, and dips into green valleys to taste fine wines (sound a bit like Northern California? more on that to come). It took hardly any time at all before I was in- Jeevi’s family and friends treated me like their own. I was hosted at family dinners and invited to stay at friends’ vacation homes. Besides some tiring bits of socializing and repeatedly explaining my lack of travel plans, it was just confortable. Home-like. But, before long, it was back to the airport and back to yikes cliff to take the plunge down to Tasmania and deeper into the unknown.

Until next time,
-willrl

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