Where is my home?

Where is my home?

Where is my home?

I’ve been in River Rouge, Michigan for the past week.  I’m sleeping in the house that I grew up in.  I’m in the “big bedroom” that I took over when my older brother moved away.  The posters from the bands I listened to in high school are still hanging on the walls in the same spot I left them that many years ago.  I wake up and see my parents everyday.  I’ve been spending time with friends that I’ve known for over 20 years.  I keep hearing from people, “it’s good to have you home.”

But this is their home, not mine.

When things get tough in my travels I find a sense of homesickness in my heart.  It feels empty and sad and gives me a yearning for something.  A something that feels slightly out of reach.  I tell myself, “I want to go home,” but thinking of where that is only makes it worse.  I don’t know where home is, or how to get there, or if it’s even somewhere that I can go towards.

I grew up in southeast Michigan, just a few miles from downtown Detroit.  Growing up I was kind of an outcast.  I thought even as a young teen that the system was fucked and I was being spoon fed bullshit that was only there to keep me in place.  I rebelled and wanted nothing to do with it.  My friends were my friends only because of our proximity, not because we shared any commonalities.  In fact, if you put us in a group photo, if it weren’t for my smile you might think I was kidnapped by a bunch of hood rats for ransom money.

I come back here because my family is here.  The people who have been looking out for my since the day I came into this world still call it home.  So for them I return to the time capsule of small town America.  A place that never seems to go anywhere despite how many places I’ve been to since the last time I stepped foot here.  I ask people what’s new only to find out there is nothing new.  Everything is on the same path it was the last time I asked the question a year ago.

If this is home, I’m okay being homeless.

The last place I lived was Seattle, Washington.  The 5 months I spent there was the longest bit of time I’ve spent in one place in many years.  I had a job, a place to live, and a routine.  I was a regular at the local cafe, I’d occasionally run into friends at the bar, and I went out with women.  It seemed normal and almost familiar, but only rarely did it feel like home.  There was a lack of substance in the life I was living there.  It was as if I was faking it all and only emulating the things I was looking for.

That wasn’t home either.

For a long time when I felt homesick I thought about Guatemala.  That beautiful place that anyone who has visited simply calls, “the lake.”  A place where time stood still.  Where inspiration flowed through me in ways I’ve never been able to get back.  I didn’t simply exist in its space, but I felt like I belonged.  I felt like we were a part of each other.  The local indigenous people would smile and wave when they recognized me in the street.  I knew all of the best off the beaten path spots to check out.  I spent 2 months living out of my tent under an avocado tree.  I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more at home in my life.

Eventually I left though.  I packed up my tent, kissed the girl goodbye, and I shed a tear knowing that I was leaving something behind that I’d miss forever.  I’d return 2 years later to Lago De Atitlan, but it was different.  Like me it had grown up, moved on, and probably forgot a lot of what we shared.  The only location on Earth that I was able to call home had become a place that I only slightly recognized, but barely knew anymore.

Home is where the heart is.

Home isn’t a location though.  It’s a feeling inside that can be brought about no matter where my feet land.  Whether it’s the familiar streets of where I grew up, the back alleys of San Pedro La Laguna, or in the chaos and turmoil of stepping off the bus into a foreign place.  Home is like a lover’s embrace.  It’s is a place where you can be yourself without judgement.  It gives you a sense of belonging, familiarity, and comfort.  Home is that feeling you get where you’re right where you need to be in this world.


  • Doc

    I must say. This entry in the Chuck Manley realm of thought manuscript (blog) brings a lot to mind. Not ONLY regarding location, as in where someone is physically, but also in this era of digital persona’s, “social networking” (which once was talking face to face) and text messaging and blogging… Where one is digitally “at home”! At least that’s what also comes to my mind when reading this. Our digital representation of our analog selves. Where do we call “home” to this extension of ourselves. This digital appendage that has been created and formatted and manipulated within and by the various media we choose to use or for our digital selves to “reside” and why do we choose to reside there? What is REALLY the purpose of this “digital home”?

    But I digress.

    Chuck, my wandering nomad and perpetually homeless friend! (Or perpetually non homeless depending on how you look at it). I look forward to your returns to my home whenever you find your path leading you back here. I welcome the incites and worldly (or Manley as it were) words and stories and plainly the comradery and love that is felt, at least within myself, when you do in fact, return to my home! The place where I physically reside.

    Be Well. Always! All Ways!