It’s like being on an eternal treasure hunt. It seems like everyone else is finally finding what they’ve been searching for, while all you’re doing is starting over, and it seems like an eternity has passed since you last felt at ease, secure, and warm—even in the height of summer, the air is chilly and lonely.
Stresses one out. It’s exhausting to keep up the pretense that you belong somewhere or with someone when you don’t, that you like and understand what they’re talking about when you don’t, and that you’re interested in what they have to say when you’re not.
It’s a lot of work. Changing residences, expanding one’s social circle, searching for romantic fulfillment, and fighting for survival all at once. Like riding a roller coaster, you enjoy the thrill and high at the start, as well as the breathtaking view from the peak, but then you plummet to the ground, you scream, and you may even come to regret having gone on the ride.
You wander aimlessly, trying to figure out where you belong. You keep looking for a place to call home, but you never find what you need.
You look for a place to call home in the company of strangers, in a professional setting, among your friends, and even within yourself, but come up empty. And you don’t know how to leave when you should stay, buck up when it’s killing you, or make it through when you could flourish. Because of this, you decide to take chances and keep looking.
As in, “Where do I fit in?” You ponder this question nightly but never seem to arrive at a satisfying answer.
Perhaps it’s not so much a matter of finding a place to call home as it is of not having one.
Perhaps you aren’t meant to arrive at your destination because it intends to find you. Perhaps one day, randomly, you’ll find it. Perhaps you’ll win a trip, and once you get there, you’ll realize it’s about more than just relaxing; it’s about letting go of everything you’ve been trying to escape. One day, perhaps, if you stop running away and learn to stay put, you’ll realize where you belong.
As an afterthought, perhaps all you need is someone by your side reminding you that the journey, not the destination, is what matters. And perhaps, just perhaps, that person is you; perhaps, very soon, you will learn that the place you’ve been searching for has been waiting inside you the whole time.
Maybe all you need to do is look within yourself to find your true place in the world. That idea brings to mind David Haldane, a man who’s made a career of writing about his search for a place to call home. Most recently, that search took him to the Philippines, where the long process of creating a home with his Filipino wife and their two children became the subject of his latest book, “A Tooth in My Popsicle and Other Ebullient Essays on Becoming Filipino.”
An American journalist, author, columnist, and sometimes radio host, Haldane has become well known for his writings focusing on finding peace and familiarity in one’s surroundings, both physically and spiritually. The search for a permanent, and meaningful home has been the
is central theme of his work, beginning with his days as an “underground” reporter for the American countercultural press of the early 1970s and continuing through 23 years as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where he covered a wide range of topics and contributed to two Pulitzer Prize-winning stories. All of it has been chronicled in four books, countless magazine articles and several collections.
Haldane’s 2015 memoir, “Nazis & Nudists,” covers his years of wandering as a vagabond through Europe and Mexico, were feeling at home was challenging at best. So challenging that he often slept on beaches and park benches. So challenging that each day was completely unlike any of the thousands he had experienced before. So challenging that almost anyone can relate, either in fantasy or in fact.
For as long as you can remember, you’ve had the ocean and sunshine outside your door.
You had a social circle that knew you and accepted all your quirks, and this was far more important than knowing which bars had the best deals or which taco joint served the best tacos.
Your walls were adorned with precious memories.
You have now moved on from all of that. There was a frenzy about the way you left. Comfort felt like suffocation as you reached the tenth quarter of life crisis in less than two years.
You felt like you were stuck in a rut.
Eventually, your studio by the beach started to resemble a prison.
Even though there was a lot of love in the room, the thought of something more kept crossing your mind.
You became discontent in those locations, and if you hadn’t upped and left (leapt), you might still be there, pondering the existence of that which keeps you from restful sleep: the possibility of more.
So, you crammed as much as possible into your car (which is tough when you’re also a bit of a hoarder), drove off, and began a year of change and uncertainty. You weren’t sure which way to turn because you weren’t sure of your final destination. The trip was more or less arbitrary, with you just picking a location randomly.
You realized that you would have to get used to being alone for a while because you only had three friends in this new city, and they were more like acquaintances.
You’ve met an amazing community of people in your new neighborhood, landed a great job on the first day, and had a potential romantic interest show up at your door. Contrarily, there wasn’t a sense of isolation. The opposite was true.
Reality set in quickly when you learned that fantasies are fleeting. A move to a new city won’t change your life.
It continues to wind and turn in unexpected ways.
The difference is that you didn’t know your way around the city when you had your first bad day here. The ocean was not there to lull you to sleep, and your best friends were not there with beer to cheer you up when it all fell apart.
Upon relocating to a new city, it was as if one were to question everything previously held to be true. Ignoring it and challenging it. And then test your mettle by seeing how well you adjust to your new surroundings.
You no longer regularly experience homesickness.
The people and the moments associated with those places and things are what you truly care about, rather than the places and things themselves. You’ve been having trouble settling into a new place with people you don’t know very well, and the concept of home is something you’ve been struggling with. You weren’t sure if it was okay to completely break down in their presence.
You’ve been blaming the city. You were experiencing yet another quarter-life crisis after losing your job and your significant other. Then, you second-guessed yourself. You began idealizing your previous life, recalling only the good times and ignoring the fact that difficulties had previously existed there as well.