When I visited my family last month it got me thinking about the concept of “home”, and how the meaning of that word has changed for me over the years as I’ve traveled more.
I mentioned in that post that it felt strange going back to my parent’s house in the town I’d grown up in. In some ways it felt like stepping back in time, but enough had changed that it was more like seeing an old photograph: being there dredged up half-forgotten memories of the past, but the colors were a bit faded, the edges indistinct. Last month I said it felt like I’d outgrown the place which I’ve decided is true. Rapids was the center of my world up until I went to college, it encompassed all I knew: my family, my friends, my school, my first job. Back then it was definitely, undeniably, 100% home.
But when I went to college in a new city, Madison, my world got bigger. Even then though, Rapids was still home. The apartments I stayed in while school was in session were temporary arrangements. I went back for the summer, did my internships close to my parent’s house, drove the two hours home on a pretty regular basis.
When I graduated and decided to stay in Madison for my first real job, that was the first time “home” changed, although I didn’t think much about it at the time. Going home could be going back to the apartment I shared with my two good friends from college, or going back to Rapids to visit my parents.
Two years after that when I moved with Julie down to South Carolina, “home” was both Madison and Rapids combined, the two hours between them an almost insignificant distance considering the distance from South Carolina to Wisconsin. Interestingly enough, while I also eventually came to refer to Beaufort and Bluffton as home, they weren’t “home” to the same level – again something I wouldn’t pause to think about until later.
Then I bought Cas and Bertha and had no home. Never having had any real attachment to the various apartments I lived in, or the stuff I dragged with me from apartment to apartment when I moved, I suspected, correctly, that not having a permanent dwelling would not bother me like it might some people getting on the road.
Previously I have discussed the way in which those first six months on the road challenged me most – not having a support network, people I counted as friends to talk to. Thinking back on it now, I realize that is a major part of how I define home. It was less the physical house, more the people I knew there and the things I did for entertainment.
Rapids became less home and Madison became more home as I developed friendships and a familiarity with the area and lost touch with my high school friends. But Rapids still has many of my relatives, so it remains home even if it’s no longer all encompassing like when I was a child. Beaufort and Bluffton in South Carolina took longer be able to fill that need of home, because I didn’t make as many friends there as I’d had in Madison. When I drove off to my first season at Amazon in 2012 I made no friends and didn’t get out and do much because of the weather and the desire to save money, and got homesick essentially.
Knowing better now, I encourage friendships whenever I’m going to be at a place for an extended period of time. Phillip Phillips is an artist who wrote a song called “Home“, and I love that song because it fits my philosophy of what home is to me as a full-time RVer.
Home is not an absolute place for me like it is for stationary folks. It’s a fluid term that applies to many places I’ve been that I’ve made connections in. Connections to the area, but equally importantly connections to the people. Like the song, I make every new place I work at into home. So while yes, I do miss a place when I move on, it doesn’t wear on me much because I’m always heading home.
So the moral of the story for you wannabe full-timers out there, give some thought to what “home” means to you and make sure you find a way to meet those needs as you travel.
I’m curious to hear what other RVers think about this. Do you have one home, many, or none at all?
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The pictures in this post were ones that were suppose to go in my Zion NP post but didn’t make it because the WiFi connection was so slow and space was limited. It’s the Emerald Pools, enjoy!
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