As you know, last January I moved from Boston to Kansas City. It has generally been a positive change, though parts of it continue to be challenging. This makes sense, any kind of big life change requires patience; I’m thinking of it as evolution, it takes time to adapt.
Over the last six weeks I have had a number of work engagements in Boston, leaving my new home and going back to the old. This gives me an enormous feeling of displacement. While it’s wonderful seeing people I’ve missed and visiting some of my old favorites, I have a great sense of not-belonging.
Let me explain.
Kansas City is starting to feel like home. I have a few favorite haunts, I am making friends, I am well settled into our home. My life has some routine and regularity now. I have a favorite grocery store and movie theater. I am beginning to relax though I don’t yet feel rooted.
All that being said, I still get lost. I don’t know how to get places. The traffic patterns are occasionally surprising. I’m still looking for suitable equivalents for various things I love. The weather is still new to me. I am still learning the social mores. I am sometimes lonely. Every day I am reminded of my newness in this place. And every day I remind myself that this is now home. I know where my bed is. My beloved is here. I am learning.
Back in Boston, I know the roadways. I know the shortcuts. I have my old favorites, the things that most comfort me. I have a community. But I don’t have a home base here. My friends are very welcoming, making places for me in their homes as warm as the place I already hold in their hearts.
And here is where the cognitive dissonance lies. I keep thinking I should either feel at home in Boston or feel homesick when I’m in Kansas City, but neither have happened. I don’t feel at home in Boston anymore, though I feel comfortable. And I don’t feel homesick for Boston when I’m in KC, because that is becoming home. But neither are home the way I have living for the last 20+ years. So I end up feeling displaced.
What I’m telling myself when I feel adrift, is that this is in fact an incredibly valuable time. By not being rooted I can see what remains of me when I don’t have a geographical center. And I find that mostly I am the same, but not entirely.
I move a bit differently. My skin is my home now. My observations of the world, my home. The moment is my home in ways it never was. To a large degree, this displacement has given me a greater appreciation and awareness of presence than I’ve experienced as an adult. I have become my own center. And for that, I am grateful.
The task at hand becomes retaining that sense of presence wherever I am, regardless of whether I am rooted or adrift.
I find myself home.