I awoke this morning at my cousin’s house in Dallas, Texas. I laid on a vintage maroon sofa with suede-like upholstery. Charlie the dog laid at my foot, or more accurately, on top of a cushion that was on top of my feet. I stretched my arms behind my head and let out a deep sigh, or groan, and readjusted the single throw pillow to a forty five degree angle to prop my head up on the arm of the couch, a move to guard against falling back asleep. Waking up at 4:00 AM was not at the top of my list of ways to start any day, but redemption lay in the fact that I was waking up to catch an early morning flight to Los Angeles.
I looked around at my surroundings, barely illuminated by the kitchen stove light. My laptop, a pack of open Marlboro’s, the ashtray with several compacted stubs, a one hitter, and a pint glass with a swig of water lay on the glass coffee table. The large flat screen television maintained a presiding presence in the room and was flanked by skateboards mounted to the walls. Several open faced motorcycle helmets were hung near the stove, with one laying on a pile of books on the floor, which told me it was more than for show. The refrigerator was plastered with brewery signs and paraphernalia. Three wine bottles rested in a neat row below three coffee mugs hanging above on metallic hooks. I took in these details, noting not just their presence, but what they meant, what they represented. The contents of my cousin’s house were indications of a life, and not just any life, but his life. These details, along with memories, made up the symbolic image that he called home. I was given the opportunity to share that, however so briefly, and as I have a tendency to do, imagined how life was lived there. I used these details and the memories from the experiences from the last two days to create this thought experiment. More than any specific mental movie, I came away feeling closer to this place and this person. A stirring from his bedroom pulled me back into reality. “Shit, I do not want to get my ass up right now” returned as the dominating thought for the moment.
A sallow light seeped out of Josh’s bedroom door as I heard the bathroom door open and the clink of porcelain on porcelain. Relieved to have a few more minutes of laying on the couch, I continued to gaze around the room I had just spent the last two days and nights making my own personal bedroom. I can’t imagine it would win any awards for luxury or comfort, but I realized I was completely comfortable. My resistance to getting up wasn’t just because it was four in the fucking morning, but also because I felt at home. I found myself in yet another place that I would have liked to stay, but would inevitably be pulling myself away from and on towards the next destination.
That is something I love about traveling. It is the opportunity to share experiences and a place to call home with friends, family, and sometimes strangers. Home is the communal and mental space that we open up to share with one another. It is both something tangible and something symbolic. The essence of home, whatever the details of it may be, is the spirit of openness and sharing. That human connection is what can make any place feel like home.
So when Josh asked me: “Ready to roll?” after we were both dressed and sitting in groggy silence in the living room, I responded.
“Yeah, man. Ready as I’ll ever be. Time to move on to the next place to call home.”