I arrived back in the city alone with a small bag, feeling surprisingly at home. I had every reason to feel displaced, and I braced myself for a surge of loneliness. It never really came. I spent all week seeing friends and the weekend reading books by myself at my new place. It was a relief to finally have the freedom to do nothing in my own personal space.
I haven’t quite stopped moving since I left Shanghai last summer. Since then I’ve built cozy little homes in/around Beijing, Korea, Yunnan, Brooklyn, and Vietnam. The truth is that I’d do it all over again.
On Sunday, I was interviewed by one of my graduate program colleagues about my early life history. Listening to her calming voice, I reached far back into my memories. Then I panicked. I remembered always having a bedroom in a safe home, and friends and family. Sometimes I even had pets. But I couldn’t place them on a geographic map or a chronological timeline. Memories aren’t linear.
I thought about it for a long time afterwards. Home is not really a physical place, is it?
It’s the people, the conversations, the meals you’ve shared. The street you walked on, day after day.