Three Faces of Home

As part of my magic mantra, I’d say considerations of Home and all it entails reasonably qualify as an obsession. For years I’ve wanted to live in a place that felt like home; for years I’ve wondered where on Earth that place might be.

Recently, though, I’ve been wondering if—for me, anyway—home is less about place and more about people. Generally speaking, it seems the more I think about home, the more wrinkles and ramifications I discover. For example—and at the risk of grossly oversimplifying things—glancing over my past and present reveals at least three different types of home: what I’ll call geographic, social, and residential.

My geographic home is the Midwest in general, and Missouri and Chicago in particular. Including my nieces and nephews, my family has been in Missouri for, I believe, five generations on each side. I myself lived there roughly 25 of my 46 years, and even now, I can draw associations between various cities—even particular bends in the road—and past stages of my life, bits of my family’s history. As for Chicago, I lived there during my impressionable undergraduate years, as well as a couple years after I finally left Missouri. I don’t have a familial past in Chicago, but my own past there goes back more than 27 years.

I currently regard Colorado—specifically, metro Denver—as my social home, by which I mean not the location of my most recent social life, but the place with the largest concentration of people outside my family to whom I feel deeply connected. Having lived there from late 1998 until halfway through 2012, this is hardly surprising. My school and choir people in particular came to feel like family, and I miss them keenly.

Residential home is my label for the place where I have, well, resided since last June—Austin, Texas. I chose Austin in part for geographic reasons, and I do have something of a social life here. Yet after 7.5 months, I must confess that to a large extent, this place remains just a place for me—with potential, sure, but without the sense of past, the depth of connection, that come with a geographic or social home.

Here is my dilemma: all these places hold some appeal; each offers something the others lack. People in all three seem to enjoy having me around. So I’m left to wonder: where should I go, where should I be? Should I “bloom where I’m planted” here in Austin, or should I go back to where I was previously planted, to Colorado, Chicago, or Missouri? Since it’s unlikely that I could combine all three (geographic, social, and residential) in one place, what combination of two would be the most fulfilling?

I’m not sure how helpful these musings are (to me, much less any of you). For all I know, something unforeseen (e.g., an unexpected romantic connection, a job opportunity) could pop up and render the above questions moot. For now, my relentlessly analytic mind and my tendency to type tomes will likely keep me spewing words in the hope that, like tea leaves or entrails, among all this verbiage might lie some hint of clarity.

Well, a guy can dream, can’t he?

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