I Know it’s Been Done, but I’m Still Defining Home

Mostly because my definition seems to be looser than others’.

When I moved out of my parents’ house the second time, it was with a girl in a similar situation, another soul adrift after graduation, someone else confused about the Point of It All, a girl who had amassed an impressive amount of furniture. This, and the aesthetic of our living room, mattered very much to her.

I slept on an air mattress and my books lay in stacks on the floor.

When I left, a year later and a single mattress richer, I took one mug from our stash of millions. She rented a U-haul and loaded it up with plants she uprooted from our tiny garden, her paintings, her bed.

She moved to Denver, and I moved to San Francisco. She crammed our apartment into her new bedroom. I unpacked the single mug and felt at peace.

You know that part in The Office when Michael Scott asks Pam how women her age feel about sleeping on futons? I’m Michael Scott, and my infinitely more put-together best friend is the long-suffering Pam, wondering how I’ve made it this far and managed to fool everyone into thinking I know what I’m doing.

When I told her my current apartment had a free futon so I had a place to sleep, she begged me to go to Ikea, but I’d much rather spend my paycheck on a day in the city than a better bed.

Besides, most nights I talk my way onto friends’ couches instead of going back to the futon. This semi-nomadic migration, to me, is home.

I suppose that’s the definition. I have a base. Somewhere I can stash all the books I decide it’s imperative to own.

Besides that, I have the exposed brick in a yuppie’s one-bedroom, a transient developer’s drab hotel walls and mediocre coffee machine, the stacks of greasy dishes in a grad student’s sink after we finish ruining dinner and roast kale instead.

Boarding a plane, I didn’t feel weird telling a chatty mother I was headed home after a business trip. If I was flying to South Carolina, I’d say the same, and the same of New Orleans. They’re all parts of home. They’re all places I could find a couch.

If you ever find yourself in San Francisco, let me know. I’ll probably be somewhere else, and you can sleep on my futon.

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Ed Ruscha painted this. I feel like it’s a succinct visual representation of the way I feel about home. Each one is a different heaven.