I rode the bus to work with our CEO Torey Malatia the other day. We chatted about a bunch of little things, and then he asked me if we were settled in.
That’s a question we get a lot.
I used to think I knew how to answer it. Now I’m not so sure.
When I said, “yeah, we’re pretty settled in now,” he said, “No, I mean does Chicago feel like home yet?”
It would’ve taken too long to answer that question with its real answer, so I just said, “yes, in a roundabout way, it does.”
The routines are set, the train rides are a blur anymore, and the lake from the windows at WBEZ on the pier is a palate of grays and blues like picking muted ties that never quite stand out.
But does it feel like home?
We lived in Hawaii on and off for several years.
It never felt like home.
We lived in Missoula, Montana for three years. It felt like home, so we bought a house there. Then I was laid off, and it felt a lot less like home.
Alaska never felt like home.
But when my boss there asked me if we were settled in, I always resisted the desire to tell him that we were more dug in than settled in.
Cheryl and I met in Oregon. We were married there. We had two of our three children there.
I attended university there.
Our families live there.
It never really felt like home for me, just a base of operations. And I always had an overwhelming desire to flee it.
I’m not sure I’m qualified to know what feels like home, much less explain to someone else that it feels like home.
They say home is where the heart is, but my heart is nomadic.
It’s the curse or the blessing of having parents who are missionaries.
They also say that not all who wander are lost.
The definition of lost is – unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts.
I can accurately say this describes me for the last 5 to 10 years.
I feel like a place will only start to feel like home when you know it like the back of your hand.
This has not been my experience.
In Alaska I did not drive for the first year, and as a result, I did not know my whereabouts. I trusted my global position to the pilots and drivers for whom Alaska is home.
Here in Chicago, I trust the train drivers and the bus drivers as well as the maps and GPS on my phone. I don’t have that familiarity of place. Sometimes I take a different road home, and I’m in another world for a while.
Home, for me, is where my best friend lives. It’s where the three lives that we created tend to dwell in a cacophonous chaos that mysteriously adds to my life. And for me, I’m whole as long as they’re in the same time and space that I’m in.
So yes, Chicago feels like home. For now.