Today was the kind of day we dream about all winter long in Seattle. It rose cold and bright, freezing my nose hairs as I trudged across concrete on my morning walk with River. The bird sang loudly—so cheerfully I thought it was someone’s phone, and then became sad that the unnatural is more expected and real than the natural in my mind. Everyone was out.
My bike tugged at my heart until I couldn’t resist any longer, and we spun into the street, swerving joyfully until I found my legs and sailed into that dream world that only exists when flying against the ground. Comfort enveloped me. The seat settled into its usual spot, my arms found their normal position, my mind felt at ease.
“This is home,” some little voice said.
I’ve been searching for home since I can remember. I spent hours building, stick by stick, fairy dwellings under the miniature pines in my parent’s country house. I placed empty acorn hats as wells and added moss roofs, to keep them dry. Later, older, I wandered empty stretches of time along New York City streets, peering shyly at the humans that confidently strode by, trying on the cadence of their steps, the swing of their arms.
Merriam-Webster calls home “one’s place of residence,” “the social unit formed by a family living together,” “a place of origin,” “a familiar or usual setting.”
I’ve arranged and rearranged furniture in old buildings, lacking insulation during cold Pittsburgh winters. I’ve built and rebuilt relationships with my mother and father when I lived with them, and now, a country away, as an adult. I’ve tried to find home in an identity as a New Yorker. I’ve looked for my origin story in journals, diaries, twisted recollections. Was I always this way?
I’ve tried to shape people into comfort, begging them to construct some kind of house to hold me safe, forever.
But what I’ve been finding, recently, is that home happens when I am wholly, unapologetically myself. I can be home anywhere, although it is easier in moments that I share with people who want to see me as I am, or alone in the woods, or cuddle up in bed listening to River’s contented little sigh as she settles in for the night, always needing her back nestled against me.
And I’m always home in the comfort of my bike saddle.