For almost the entire past year, I have lived from three suitcases which I never fully unpacked. I spent that time in Curaçao on a consulting project with frequent visits to the nearby islands of Aruba and Bonaire. I was always warmly welcomed yet I never really felt at home.
Nonetheless, I liked that lifestyle. I am addicted to the change of scenery and the novelty of our situation. Like many of us who enjoy seeing the world, I relish experiencing new cultures, new sights, and tasting exotic food. I enjoyed meeting new people and the “wow factor” of telling people I lived and worked in the Caribbean.
As fun as that was, as my project came to a completion recently, I found myself contemplating my next personal and professional move. I had quite a few options with few places I couldn’t or wouldn’t go. However, I longed for a real sense of place. Of belonging.
When there, someone once asked where I called “home.” I stopped to consider the depth of the question. In truth, I had the name and address of the last hotel where I stayed, a post office box back in Texas, and a few boxes in storage. Did that make me homeless? In some ways, it felt that way.
Then several weeks ago, after living two months in Manhattan and spending an extended weekend in London, my personal circumstances changed to the point where I was ready to stay in one place. Seizing the opportunity, I decided to return to Texas.
I finally unpacked and discovered I had found that most magical of places: “home.” I found myself unpacking not only the few possessions I had maintained but also unpacking my own sense of place. I put my suitcases into storage instead of them being the storage. And I decompressed my way of thinking to accommodate my expanded new surroundings.
That sense of home is a critical part of maintaining our sanity in the insane world of frequent travel. Having a center, a place to return to, and all the touchstones we find there is what keeps us grounded in a flurry of gate changes, boarding passes, and TSA lines.
Now, I am returning from another long weekend in Mexico City. And for the first time in years, I will not check in to another generic, nondescript hotel room. Rather this time I will return to Home. I believe that in finding a work-home balance, the first step is to have a home. Gratefully, I can now say I have one.
It’s true that there is no place like home.