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finding home

by Caitlin Nightingale 2 months ago in Humanity · updated 2 months ago
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... and having a housewarming.

i don’t feel lost anymore.

it used to be that everywhere i went i hunted for a mommy, a father to help me anchor. a city that didn’t treat me like the visitor from another planet, but welcomed me like a native.

my mother used to jokingly ask if i was adopted, not sure what to do with my eccentricities. i remember, my grandmother gave me a swan beanie baby one year for easter because “i was like a swan, awkward and not at home on land among the others, but happy far away alone.”

i understand why they said this, i didn’t understand the rhythms or whys of where i grew up.

somewhere along the way, as an adult, after losing my family in my early twenties, i became determined to stop feeling shame or apologizing for not having family any longer. i decided to find a home in myself.

now, eleven years later, everywhere i go, i find home. intuition led me from minnesota to indianapolis to california to texas to california to norway to england to france to texas again … before trying new york for a quick little seven weeks. once i got here, in new york city, i knew i'd never rebook that one way ticket to london i'd had before changing course. at least not for a long time. when i'd canceled that ticket to London, i didn't think i could find home spot in the united states. i was so ready to run, and be an expat, a proper stranger somewhere that at least felt interesting.

not feeling lost didn’t happen overnight. being able to recognize a home was something i had to learn.

it first started in paris, i had my favorite brasserie that i'd go to a few times a week. the staff started recognizing me. they invited me to their afters spot … it was only four weeks into living there. i spoke almost no french, but i tried, and smiled too much.

from there, in new york city, i wandered one night trying to find a good glass of wine after work, and the closest spot to my two bridges apartment (that wasn’t chinese food) led me up into the bowery area, late on a wintery night.

the bartender asked questions and recognized me the next time i went to sit at the bar and read after work. after that, every week i’d go on wednesdays after therapy to have a glass of sparkles and a snack.

i felt so known, they comped a drink or two every time i went, and after years of living on my own, that was a rare gift. i’ve always had gifts on birthdays, given from friends. but after losing my family, i suddenly was also my sole provider for the first time ever. my love language is gifts. i felt loved when they'd comp something. i felt cared for. it was finally something i hadn't earned.

from there, that first “local spot”, i learned to wander, trusting my intuition, and wandering into stores and restaurants that caught my attention and were something i wanted to try. they needed to LOOK appealing. they needed to make me want to stay, to be warm, to welcome my energy. there needed to be a soul to them.

along the way i found my spots, i go back again and again because the people that run them understand the concept of home. they understand not feeling lost. they understand that people need to find home there. somewhere they feel special.

we don’t need each other in these places. but we remember each other. there is reciprocity and friendship, recognition in a sea of friendly faces. kinship in a city it’s easy to get lost in.

plus, from there, one day i would happen to find a keeper. a surprise encounter. i would meet someone that had a similar rhythm to mine. it was from those chance meetings a spiral of community has been built.

one friend, leads to two, leads to tribe.

each of us has home places.

a friend asked me recently how i can know so many people.

i don’t have family, my holidays and sundays and friday nights aren’t spent with aunts and grandmothers and siblings. they’re spent reading my book at a little bar somewhere making a new friend. hearing the story of my neighbor and how he found his home and made his children.

i find kindred spirits in the people sitting next to me, and the “aunt” to roll my eyes at in my neighbor.

all my connections are from choice and love and desire. the friendships are heartfelt and chosen. the connections i live with now, are from choice. growing more every day into balance and cocreation.

martha beck once said "when i lost my family to religion, suddenly my thanksgiving table was empty. from there, when i'd meet a new soul that was soul family, i'd know another seat at my thanksgiving table was filled. since then, my table is always full of family. family i've chosen."

i am not lost, or orphaned, or motherless. i’ve found home. i make home. i am home.

welcome home …

… as you find yours as well.


About the author

Caitlin Nightingale

The many moods of a moon child.

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