There’s something inexplicable about the sense of having lost your home.
I moved away from the town I grew up in when I was 18. I moved a couple of a hundred miles away to a city whose people spoke the same language and whose faces often had me throwing a second glance, swearing to myself I know who they are. I moved to a city where no one knew who I was and where I knew no one.
Call it angst, call it a necessity. Whatever it was I set my eyes on the horizon and walked away from everything I knew.
I moved to Cleveland, a city on the brink of heaving itself out of dereliction, where I was approached for the first few months constantly – “don’t I know you? You look like someone I know.” No you don’t know me. I visited this city twice before I moved here, and got lost in a city that I now know like a favorite sweater.
But after four years, it still isn’t home.
I’m not from here you see, anytime someone asked. I’m from Minnesota, my voice always tinged with pride. We say our a’s and our o’s funny, but at least our water tastes better and the air feels easier to breathe in.
Now after nearly four years of back and forth, I’ve lost nearly everything I had in the city I called home. I have my family of course, my mom and her boyfriend, a handful of brothers and their significant others, one niece and another baby on the way. I have two cats and two dogs too – probably the best part of my trip home if I’m going to be honest.
But there it is again, that nagging realization that I can’t hide from, the inevitable separation between what you identify as and what you embody.
I don’t have many friends there anymore, we’ve either found distance slowly encroaching on our relationship or let our friendship go up in flames in the middle of the night. I don’t have any real job prospects, no connections or leads.
If I were to move home I would have to start all over again. I didn’t expect that side-effect.
I love Cleveland, but I can’t stay here. I love Minnesota, it’s a place I want to return to, but know that it would be difficult and probably stifling.
What to do?
Look towards the horizon again of course.
But that horizon in recent months has become what I call The Void.
Sometimes it’s affectionate, other times it is as heavy and vacant as it feels rolling of your tongue. It is nothing, it is a dark space full of who knows what. There could be nothing, there could be innumerable obstacles for me to bump into and stumble over.
I feel as if I am going blind.
I am eight weeks from graduating college, eight weeks from walking across a stage to accept degrees in journalism and French language & literature.
Doesn’t that sound so full of promise?
I had hoped it would, but at this point I have envisioned nearly every day a mini-version of myself standing unsure on a cliff.
I could jump off this craggy out cropping, down to the depths below. In fact, I have done that. Hundreds of times before. I have run off of cliffs, screaming with joy, a grin cracking my face in two, impatient to reach whatever lay beneath me. But right now, I am scared.
I am scared that at the bottom of this particular cliff, a mountain I have been climbing for many years, that there is no bottom and I will continue to fall into a void. Or worse. I’ll hit a cliff that I’ve already jumped off of and be so broken and damaged that I can do nothing but lay there, wondering if I had just jumped a little farther or later, I wouldn’t be in that position.
I guess that’s what happens when you realize how quickly you’re headed back to your childhood home, not ready to be shuffled into the basement.
I’m not ready to lose the independence that I have cultivated here.
I’m not ready to leave behind my favorite bars, radio stations or that little spot on my outdated couch that I curl up into every day after a long day. I’m not ready to, but I think I have to.
Growing up is terrifying.