Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Winter Coats Are for Winter

I have been visiting my family in Pittsburgh since November 19th. I worked while I was here from ModCloth's Pittsburgh office, which was fun and fortunate because I could spend extra time with my family and friends without losing work days. I fly home to San Francisco tonight and hit the ground running tomorrow with teaching and writing.

During my visit I stayed in my parents house, the house I grew up in. My old bedroom is now the guest room; Sal and I slept there all week until he left on Saturday and since I've slept alone. I forgot how cold my room can get at night, especially without Sal there, who is part furnace. On Sunday night we missed the chance to talk and I dreamt of him. He emailed me saying he fell asleep after work and dreamt of picking me up at the airport and calling me all night.

The typical question that everyone asks you when you get married is, "How's married life?" Which is then quickly followed by, "When are you going to start a family?" Since Sal and I are not married, the question I got asked the most during my visit was, "How do you like California?" I'm not sure why I started answering the question this way but I told people about all the things I didn't like: how I feel neurotic around Californians, I missed autumn, people pee on the street at night, I can't get used to the slow pace or how expensive everything is. This was an honest response. I'd then quickly follow up with how I love my work and learning the city is fun and there is always delicious food and avocados everywhere! But I made it clear that it was and still is a big adjustment for me. Sal expressed concern about my responses and I told him I just wanted to be honest with people and not just say that I love California because you are supposed to love it. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. The jury's still out.

A few people asked me whether California felt like home.

No.

But after I thought it about, Pittsburgh didn't feel like home anymore either, especially after Sal left. It's definitely more "me" here. People here drink beer, put fries on the their salads, don't care whether their food is "grass-fed" and they don't wear winter coats when it's 55 degrees outside because 55 degrees is not cold. But it's not home anymore. It occurred to me that I am, for the first time ever, without a home.

I don't know how I feel about it. Many people experience this feeling much younger, but I called Pittsburgh my home for 30 years and five days and now I live in California. As corny as it sounds, Sal feels like home. Saying goodbye on Saturday was hard because I thought about all the times we said goodbye while we were long-distance. But now I say goodbye to so many people and while those goodbyes are the same kind of difficult, they are still hard. Especially when you come from a tight-knit clan like me.

Maybe people become my home? Maybe I carry it with me? Maybe I have many homes? Or perhaps I decide what home means and I consciously build it in San Francisco? I don't have any answers yet.
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