“Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?”
― Stephanie Perkins
“Home is people. Not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone, then all you can see is what is not there any more.”
― Robin Hobb
I have not had a place to call home in 15 years. I do not have a hometown. Honestly, I do not remember what it feels like to go home and I don’t know that physical structures have ever really felt like home to me. For me, people are home. There are certain people, that when I’m with them, I am at home.
Tomorrow, I get to travel to New Orleans and meet up with two men that represent home for me. It doesn’t matter where we are in the world, when I’m with them, I can just be myself. I imagine that is what it feels like for some people to arrive at home.
I met Josh as a young graduate student. We were budding professional listeners, just trying to figure it all out. We soon realized, no one has any of this figured out. I was a woman in my early twenties and my self-worth was in the toilet. He was the friend I had been waiting to meet.
It was the friend version of love at first sight. Immediately, we challenged each other intellectually and comedically. We would talk about psychological theories and then wander seamlessly into jokes that would make most people uncomfortable.
The next man I get to be with is Nathan, Josh’s partner. He is the the epitome of loving kindness. I had the distinct pleasure of being present for their first kiss and being in their wedding.
I believe it was my relationship with Josh and Nathan that made my relationship with Mr. Beard possible. The summer before I met Mr. Beard, I had little to no self-worth. This was evident by my past relationships and the way I treated myself. Our friendships went into high gear the summer before I set off for even more graduate school.
Knowing I was moving away, I practically moved into their condo for most of the summer. I even renamed their couch my boudoir. It was over the course of this summer that Josh and Nathan reminded me that I was someone worth something. It was not as if I was explicitly begging for affirmations or validations, it was just the organic nature of our interactions.
I think we like to fool ourselves into thinking we do not need these types of validating relationships.
It was the first time in a long time that I did not feel as though I was too much for someone (too loud, too opinionated, too crass, too needy, or too nosy). My laugh has a reputation. It is loud, but they only tried to make me laugh louder. They never acted embarrassed by me (although they say they did). It was those little bits of consistent acceptance that made all the difference in my life.
I think when we pick people apart and tell them they are too much or too little of something, we damage them.
That summer they helped me put those little pieces of Too Much Sissy back in their deserving places. When I met Mr. Beard early that Fall, and he claimed to love all those “too much” parts of me, I believed him. I do not think I would have been able to believe him if I had not spent the summer before being loved back together by two wonderful men.
Our relationships have the power to build us up or break us down. I have known both kinds of relationships in my life and I know that the more time I spend with people that build one another up the better I am and, I think, the better they are, too. I am so incredibly fortunate to have a community of people that represent home for me. I hope they all know what they mean to me. Tomorrow, I get to go home to a place I have never been.
“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
― Sarah Dessen