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Over the course of the last two and a half weeks, I have had six panic attacks. Six terrifyingly oppressive and exhausting panic attacks–and they’ve all been about my upcoming return to New York.

Surely, you might say, I should be very excited to go back to New York. I have, after all, been trying to do just that for a sizable portion of my time in Los Angeles. And you would be half right in your assessment. I am, indeed, very excited to return to the world that I have inhabited for the largest portion of my adult life thus far. A world where I will once again be surrounded some of the most educated people from all walks of life. A world where I know that I can, if I choose, avoid talking of auditions and casting agents.  I am excited to return to the realm of the cosmopolitan and escape some from L.A.’s relentless sub-urbanity.

However, New York is not some mysterious unknown into which this adventurer is now diving. For all that I love that city, I no longer harbor any romantic ideals about what it’s like to live there. Life in New York is, in a word, exacting. It is probably one of the most relentlessly grinding places that one can choose to be. “Anything after New York would be–a pleasure cruise,” as the song goes. It is a really fucking boring pleasure cruise–but many a former New Yorker has been driven from their abode, perhaps for Portland instead of Santa Fe, but the sentiment remains. So many things that normal Americans take for granted are labeled luxuries in New York. Personal space? Access to nature? Solitude? New York has managed to commodify each of these in such an intense way that great sacrifices must sometimes be made in order to obtain them. And having lived in California for the last 18 months where those three things are abundant, I will admit that I balk a bit at re-surrendering myself to the concrete jungle. I’ve gotten awfully comfortable in my 1 BR with parking.

And as I make the decision of whether to live with another person or willingly raise my own budget for rent an additional $300-$500 dollars every month (an amount that would rent an entire two BR apartment with parking in other places), a tiny voice creeps in and asks me what exactly I think I’m doing. I know how hard things can get. I know the depths I can sink to. I am at something of an impasse, and all I want is to find my way home.

What is a home? They say home is where the heart is, so it makes sense that my poor, fragmented heart is so confused about what that word means. Having bounced from town to town as a child, then state to state and country to country as I reached adulthood, I have given pieces of my heart to so many people and places over the years that my compass has no north. There is no guiding star to lead this voyage, so it often feels like I am simply adrift at sea. My parents live in different cities, both far from the town I fled to go to college. My host families in Japan, Argentina, and Morocco are living their lives without me. The entire country of Israel, which I love with reckless, wild abandon that you can only have for first loves of a certain nature, is too fucked up to consider returning to any time soon. So for now that just leaves New York with the largest portion of my heart: home to 8 million crazy, ambitious, intelligent, beautiful, wonderful monsters — who have not paused or slowed since my departure, because they are too busy trying to stay afloat themselves. I am one insignificant grain of sand on a shoreful of souls who have come to and left New York. And much to my chagrin I know that I will be leaving little pieces of my heart here in L.A. with the people here who have unexpectedly become like family.

All of this is to say that home is where the heart is; I just need to find all of the pieces of my heart.

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