Dear Clementine

Our resident expert gives life advice for those who like to roam.

Image Credit: Cassie/Veda House

Dear Clementine

I am a nomad by nature. Few things used to thrill me like exploring a new city! I was addicted to the rush of a fresh start (both in literal and metaphorical terms), new streets to navigate and relationships to discover. However, the rush has waned of late and I find myself wanting a place to call “home”. I think I am coming to realize that all this time what I thought was an exciting adventure was more of a perilous escape. An escape from uncertainty and discomfort; whether it was a job, relationship or living situation – you name it, when things became difficult I was already busy planning my next getaway.

I am tired, Clementine. I want to find my place and to know where I belong. How do I settle down and overcome my “grass is greener” condition? How do you know when you have found “home”? And how do you have the courage to stay when the going gets rough?

-- Wherever You Go

Hello, Wherever You Go.

Let’s start with this home you’re craving.

Is it an all-white modern flat high up in Manhattan? Maybe a cute fixer-upper with original brick and exposed ductwork in Chicago? Ooh! Or a shotgun in New Orleans, just around the corner from that place famous for beignets? Yum.

Your question has nothing to do with paint colors and proximity to killer high-caloric fritters, does it?

I have some words taped to the window just behind my desk that originally read “How does your life move forward, when all you want to do is hold still.” I took some liberties with it, though, and flipped it: “How does your life hold still, when all you want to do is move forward.” Makes more sense to me like this.

Personally, I am both tempted and scared to death at the very thought of a permanent home. I grew up in one, I love visiting, and would choose it over any beach house or mountain holiday getaway. And yet, to me, planting roots means I’m not going anywhere. I'm stuck. The world is so big! Why can’t I see it all? Oh, right. Because of that mortgage that won’t let me go.

I can’t get past it. But I’m getting close. I can feel it.

You see, I really want a pink refrigerator and a red washing machine. I want a fat couch warmed by window-fed sunshine. I want to pick out my own paint colors. I’m thinking I want an indigo bedroom. I want little reading lamps everywhere. So many that I get a bit annoyed at night when I have to turn them all off. I want quilts for cozy sleeps. I want a guest bedroom and a guest bathroom and guests who hate to leave. I want an herb garden, and not just a measly one on my windowsill; I want the garden that’s been gaining strength for three years and gives enough of a harvest to season my neighbors’ pesto and soups. I want neighbors who make pesto and soups and share them with me. I want a naughty dog that tries to dig up the garden. I won’t get mad at him. I’ll just roll my eyes and say something like “Oh, Jesse. You’re such a naughty puppy!” I want one of those Little Free Libraries in my front yard. I want to buy Girl Scout Cookies from the sweetheart next door, every year until she outgrows the uniform and the rules. I want to buy a silent reel mower because it's a good investment and because I don't want to bug my neighbors with my Saturday morning mowing schedule. I want a mowing schedule. I want a barista who knows my name, and the same with the egg guy at the farmer’s market. I want to get into a tiny squabble with my neighbor about naughty Jesse, and then deliver her an apple pie and heartfelt apology. And then I would like to take Jesse on an evening stroll. When I come back, I want to catch sight of my house with its million and two little lamps lighting it up, and smile straight from my heart. “I’m home,” I’ll think to myself.  And that thought won’t scare me. Not even one little bit.

But first, I would really like to try Sweden for a year or two. Then maybe Morocco or North Carolina. I’m getting there, Wherever You Go. You sound like you're even closer.

Home means different things to all of us. For some of us, it's about a pink fridge and an herb garden. For others, it's all about the people who share your space. Home for me right now is about my people. Do you have enough people where you are, Wherever You Go? Maybe start there. Find them and start there. The pink fridge, the herb garden, the million and two little lamps, and maybe even that naughty, naughty puppy...they'll all follow.

How will you know when you’ve found your home? Same way you know you’ve found your true love: wild horses couldn't drag you away.

That’s the only way I live my days. (Send me a note when you find your spot, will you? Email is probably best…since I don’t know where I’ll be!)