Home is where… something.

This is the kind of post I always debate about posting on this blog, figuring maybe it’s better suited for my private journaling. God, Mateer, I think, don’t bother with this feely shit: just tell ’em what you think of the new Juanes album. (Look, friends, I haven’t listened to it yet; maybe I’ll do the double on Colombian musician CD reviews when Shakira’s latest comes out tomorrow. Also I know most of you probably don’t care but I’m sorry, I’m never going to write another entry about the term “ovaries before brovaries,” no matter how many times people find my blog by googling it).

Anyway, I’ve just had a friend from Ithaca visiting for the weekend while she studies abroad in London, and now I’m in the process of finding someone to move in to the house when one of my housemates moves out to go teach English in China. Between those two things and the upcoming launch of the NUIG MA in Literature and Publishing’s literary journal ROPES (check out the Facebook page for the launch party and enjoy how seamlessly/shamelessly I just plugged it), I’ve been thinking a lot about home. Not home like Bucks County, Pennsylvania, or home like this house in the Claddagh, but home, generally.

For the first 18.5 years of my life, I lived in one house, one town, one state, one country. Over the next five years, up to now, I’ve lived in four more cities in three more countries than where I’d been before. With only two weeks of classes left in the MA, I’m starting to get that “What will you do after this?” question again. First of all, don’t ask; it freaks me out just as much now as it did before I knew I was going to Ithaca in my senior year of high school, and as much as it did before I knew I was coming to Galway in my senior year of college.

The truth is, I will of course have to decide where I’m going to live after this (and how to bring along these kittens I’ve semi-inadvertently adopted)—will I stay in Galway? in Ireland at all? Will I go back to the United States? Or will I actually do what everyone seems to suspect I might and try to get back to Spain for good? But that’s not what I’ve been thinking about today. Rosemary moving will make me the longest-residing member of this household (Justine may actually have moved in an hour or so before me, but I’ll be here until the autumn while she’s leaving early in summer, so I’m claiming this one for myself), which is the first time I’ve ever had that experience. Obviously my parents lived in my family home longer than me; in the two dorms and two apartments I lived in at Ithaca I moved in at the same time as my friends (and moved out before them in two instances); same with the flat I lived in when I studied abroad in London; and living in a homestay in Sevilla of course meant that I wasn’t the earliest occupant of the apartment. So this, along with the usual weirdness of friends moving, will be weird.

The other thing is, and maybe this is very young or at least very naive of me, that I’m not sure I can pinpoint exactly where I would call “home” anymore. In undergrad it was easy—even when I was living in Ithaca or even abroad, when I went “home” it was to my parents’ house in Pennsylvania. But look, just there, I said I went to “my parents’ house” not to “my house.” In college, that would’ve been “my house” and everything else was just temporary, but now “my house” is in Galway, but is my home in Galway? If someone asks me where I’m from I still, of course, say America (lest I be laughed at due to my clearly-not-Irish accent), but if I return there it’ll be to a new house in a new town. If I ever live in my parents’ house again it’ll be a temporary measure, while I’m getting settled wherever I end up, perhaps, but it’ll be a visit, not a living situation (sorry, parents, you might be getting stuck with the cats for a while, but you won’t be stuck with me anyway). When you have a place of your own, that’s your home, but then again the town where you grew up is still your home town, isn’t it?

I’m obviously not “homeless.” I have a place to live and come home to. I have housemates. I have cats. I don’t have a wanderlust so immediately pressing that I have to cut ties and get out now. Is that what being home is? Is it a privilege that I’ve never had to give it too much thought? I don’t know where I’ll be living this time next year. This is very pretentious. Some of you are probably nodding and thinking, “Ah, sure, she has a few pints in her.” It’s just tea.

Anyway, this all came out of my friend from… home, but actually Ithaca, coming to visit for the weekend. Nobody would ever go to my hometown for tourism, but everywhere else I’ve lived, including Galway, has been somewhat of a tourist destination, and it’s always interesting to see it through new eyes. When I first got to Galway I was so focused on finding a place to live and then getting settled with classes and all I didn’t (and still haven’t) done some of the main tourist attractions, like the day trips to the Aran Islands or the Cliffs of Moher, or gone to the museum (which I didn’t even know existed for the longest time). Then again, when you live in a place, things that might be considered tourist attractions, like certain pubs and Eyre Square and the Claddagh are just part of every day. Still, if you are a tourist to Ireland, Galway is a must-see, although maybe that’s a post for another time. I’ll shut up until that Shakira review then.

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