Home

Before I moved to New York, I wrote about the concept of “home” and what it has always meant to me. When you look up the definition of the word home, you find that its a noun, adjective, adverb, and verb—that you can scroll for pages through the various definitions for the word and see how we define this word differently and for many different things, feelings, or actions. Because of its diverse meanings, it’s hard to nail down precisely what home is. I once said:

“I have never known what it will be like to not be able to return to my childhood home and walk inside. I know my parents have desires to find themselves elsewhere as well. There is a chance that soon, my room, which has only ever been my room, will become someone else’s. I took it all in before I left.

I started out my window at the view and saw the branches I used to climb sway slightly with the breeze. I looked around at the emptiness that remained. I pulled my bedroom door behind me and felt it latch shut. I gazed around the shared living areas and stepped outside. I watched out the car window as the garage door descended and closed. I looked back to see the flowers planted in the lawn I ran around and played in with our family dogs.

The trees in the neighborhood whipped past me and blurred into a green haze as I closed my eyes to remember that I was ready—I was prepared to soon establish my own home.”

That was nearly three years ago and so much has clearly changed since there. My parents are more ready than ever to put my childhood home on the market, and obviously, if they do, I will try my best to go home one last time, but right now I am leaving my home in New York, and heading back to my home in Florida.

Even if I have been here for three years, everyone asks, “where are you from?” They aren’t asking what train did I come on, or what borough I live in, or what block I am on, but rather assuming or knowing this isn’t my only home. I have found that no matter how long I have been here, I will always be a part of Naples, as it is a part of me.

Now, as I sit on this charter bus and watch the Manhattan skyline disappear into the distance, I see even more broadly the concept of home can be, and for that, I am forever grateful. Because I did make a home for myself in New York. It lies in my side of the bed or the couch that I always sit in to write. Its the emerald green chairs in my living room, or the gold and aged wood picture frames in my hallway. It’s knowing how my pots and pans are able to be stacked, and home is still huffing and puffing up the stairs in my walk-up.

And although New York every other day feels like my home, it feels good to know I always have a home where my family is — including Naples. 

 

 

 

 

Excitement with August

Let’s go back to August 1997. I’m two, strawberry-blonde, and sporting baby tooth smile. I’m headed off to pre-school this year, the first time that I can remember being away from my home and family for more than a few hours. I’m enrolled in Miss. Robbin’s class at The Caring Place, or under its new name, the Village School.

I don’t remember my first day past vaguely gripping my mother’s legs until a strange woman coaxed me into this colorful room full of chairs that were my size and children that were my age. However, as my mother recalls, I kinda waltzed in, established myself as a classmate, and became the one everyone wanted to play with.   58639045142__3F178EB1-314C-4507-BB84-67B634579505

Eventually, I got used to the routine of mid-afternoon naps with other kids, Spanish and English lessons, and recess. When I think back to my time at The Caring Place, I have a few very distinct memories. I remember our Halloween party, scooter/bike day, and our aquarium themed performance. I remember going to the big school next door, Sea Gate Elementary School, and playing on their playground which had my favorite recess activity––the swings. I remember the second year of pre-school better than the first. I’m not sure if it was Miss. Misty’s doing (my second pre-school teacher) or whether my mind and memory were developing more, but she threw a wild St. Patrick’s Day party that will always stay with me. Picture your teacher trashing your classroom with chairs thrown about the room, tables upside down, and glitter everywhere as the students are tasked with making “leprechaun traps” that were made out of decorated shoe boxes propped up with sticks as lucky charms were strewn about underneath. 

However, 1997 was technically my first “back-to-school” season, so here I am in 2019 realizing I won’t be going back-to-school this 2019-2020 school year and I won’t again for the foreseeable future.

 

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My first “school photo”

 

That thought, feeling, the idea is strange. Not being a student is foreign to me in all sense of the word. I hit the month of August and the first thing I think about is going back to school, hell even my partner brought up that he received his tuition bill yesterday. Even when I graduated early from my undergrad, and lived at home for a fraction of the 2016-2017 school year, that Fall I was taking courses at the local education center and applying to grad school.

I think the “strange” realization ruminated in my mind somewhere between May and July. It was the May when I graduated and had the first thought of “it’s over.” That then manifested in my subconscious until my inbox received it’s first “back-to-school email” of the 2019 season in July —it was then that I realized just how strange it is to be done.

Most people can’t wait to be done with school, and I feel that on lots of different levels too, but at the same time, I love it. I love going and learning more about the subjects I find interesting and being in a classroom with my peers. I love the consistency of a schedule and packing my backpack with books, notebooks, freshly sharpened Ticonderoga pencils, and Sharpie fine point, felt pens. I didn’t love the tests and the books I was forced to read. I didn’t love the six am wake up calls and final papers. There were the downfalls that came with “I don’t want to get up” that every student experiences, but at the end of the year, when summer came, I was always excited for August. Always until now. 

When I first started applying to jobs after my graduation, I saw an ad for a masters program that was offered online for mental health counseling. I was job hunting for all of 2 minutes before I saw the ad and considered going back to school for yet another degree. In my mind, my “forever-student” mentality is the reason I am facing a crippling amount of debt. I think this “strange” feeling stems from being worried about not being as successful as I aspire to be, but it also glosses over what it is I owe because of school.

It is coming down to understanding how attending school became my crutch but manifesting the fear into subconsciously putting off getting a job does nothing for where I want to be in the future. Because when it comes down to it, I’m scared to not be in school because I don’t know what is to come when I am no longer “a student.” 

It’s August, the 2nd of August to be exact, and as I apply to more jobs that I can’t fathom doing means I am missing the idea of going back to school in the coming weeks. As I interview for jobs I start missing the tests, final papers, and book reports. I miss picking out my first-day outfit and going to Target with my mom for new school supplies.

I want to have the structure and rigidity of a “classroom” and “schedule” in my next life after school but I can’t seem to find the right match. All of this stress of finding work is making me miss my yearly “first-day” photos at the front door. I feel like there is so much more to learn from the world, but I worry about the jobs I am applying to what teach me what I want and need to learn. I am looking for the balance, but I haven’t found it yet, and I am nervous I won’t find it. So happy August everyone, I know good things will come, so I am trying to be as patient as I was in middle school when I was “so over these first day photos.”

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My first, first-day photo

 

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My last, first-day photo. 

 

 

Leaving Wedgewood Way

I was enrolled in a writing course during undergrad where our first assignment was to look abstractly at our definition of the word home. Broadly it was feelings I received alongside a coordinate on a map. I found a home to symbolize the togetherness of the humans I surrounded myself with. I never felt it was as if the word only amounted to the physical embodiment of a structure, but in this case, this residence has remained my home for so long.

After the age of one, I reached all my milestones at this address. I developed and grew while the structure remained the same. It was here that I ran under the countertops until I was too tall and slammed my head into the granite. It was here that my parents collected photos of me falling asleep in strange places. I would wake up on Christmas and excitedly run to the family room shake all the presents under the tree that Santa gave me.

My flowered wallpapered was plastered up before moving in and then stripped and painted electric blue when I challenged the femininity of my personality while being a sports fanatic in middle school. My eyes strained at the color and eventually more coats of purple paint covered the brightness because my mom wouldn’t let me paint the room black in high school. I left for college and it was redecorated and updated to keep up with my changing personality and maturity. It remains now like it is in the photo above in my memory.

I would sit outside on my driveway and stare up at the stars in the evening and understand how infinite life felt. I would walk my neighborhood and adventure with friends. I would leave and return feeling incredibly grateful for this home and where I grew up. This city has made an impact on my life that I always felt I would want to return and show the one I love the city that developed me, but I would never return here to live. It would be to walk down memory lane and highlight all the highs and lows throughout my time here.

Those feelings felt real this time more than ever. I stared down another move, and I have a feeling this could be the last time I ever reside at this residence. I am hitting the age where moving back in would seem counterproductive. I am pursuing the dreams to get myself established and that won’t happen in this home.

I have never known what it will be like to not be able to return to my childhood home and walk inside. I know my parents have desires to find themselves elsewhere as well. There is a chance that soon my room, which has only ever been my room, will become someone else’s. I took it all in before I left.

I started out my window at the view and saw the branches I used to climb sway slightly with the breeze. I looked around at the emptiness that remained. I pulled my bedroom door behind me and felt it latch shut. I gazed around the shared living areas and stepped outside. I watched out the car window as the garage door descended and closed. I looked back to see the flowers planted in the lawn I ran around and played in with our family dogs.

The trees in the neighborhood whipped past me and blurred into a green haze as I closed my eyes to remember that I was ready—I was ready to soon establish my own home.

New Home, New York

I have been going through so many life changes that it has been rather difficult to catch my breath. When my plane flew over the New York skyscrapers and I looked down over the possibility of my new home my breath escaped me, except it wasn’t taking my breath away in a good way.

Excitement jumps for joy inside of me when it comes to adventure, but then for once, I was worried this was going to be a mistake. I fell a victim to it. I fell to the anxiety that was: I have two days, if that, to find a home in a city I have only previously spent 72 hours in. Not only was I worried, but I was utterly terrified that I was going to step off the plane onto the jetway and combust.

I have moved just a few times in my life. Naples, Florida is where I resided in for nearly eighteen years. It was the only home I knew for so long, but I was so ready to find myself elsewhere. I moved to Boulder, Colorado, the Patagonia Disneyland of the West for college and took my home to an all-time high (elevation that is).

I left the mountains and moved to gain a broken British accent while living in London, England. I felt like I would never live anywhere except London. I found myself there more than I ever did in Boulder or Naples. I shed all my imperfections and strengthened myself and views the world so vastly in such a short amount of time.  I was spinning all my grad school gears towards the United Kingdom.

I fell in love and that changed things. I always felt my parents holding onto my invisible reigns, but they would have always let go so I could follow my heart to the U.K. I started to see how hard it would be to live abroad and stay abroad due to immigration laws. As I was realizing that, I was finding what I loved in my own home again.

I would have never thrown away my dreams to be with him just as I would have never hoped he would do the same for me, but I was swayed most likely subconsciously to stay close to what I loved here. I started looking back at the school I looked at originally for my parents, but now it wasn’t to humor them but to see if I could find myself once more in a new city here. I was ecstatic that NYU admitted me into their program.

I was envisioning how much I would grow and how excited I would be to have everyone come to the city and stay in my cozy East Village apartment. When I walked around New York I was reminded of that, but I was overwhelmed. I watched too many Friends leading up, and my apartment views were slightly skewed. They are smaller than Monica’s Mansion.

I have to say its so important to trust your gut. I may have stayed in America for tons of different reasons, and I may have lost sight of them when I felt weakened by apartment viewings. I knew I loved my apartment before I viewed it. I saw other places, too many places, but nothing compared. I am grateful that it didn’t slip through my fingers like it could have. It was an experience none the less.

When they say 70-90% sure on the apartment is enough they mean it. This is what I found helped me not find 100%:

  • Research before and find the median prices and keep an eye out for what is for sale.
  • Go in with a price range, but expect to change it.
  • Breath. Between. Viewing. They may be short, but don’t hold your breath.
  • Figure what you need and know where you can and cannot compromise
  • Research the building, there is a difference between 4 complaints and 400.
  • Brooker fees suck, but sometimes fee-less apartments suck more.
  • Love the area, you are going to be spending time walking there.
  • Envision yourself in there, if you can’t, move on.
  • Have all your paperwork ready or readily available.
  • Apply when you know and don’t let doubt prolong the situation.