Today’s guest post comes from my beautiful friend Christine, avid world-traveler and beach enthusiast. You can keep up with her travel adventures on her blog, and read the story of our friendship here.
Right now, I live in a fourth-floor walk-up on the Lower East Side. I have two roommates, a fire escape that doubles as a balcony and a monthly rent that would pay a mortgage in my hometown. It’s a neighborhood that’s trendy because it’s gritty, where a $1 pizza joint is right next to a speakeasy with artisan cocktails.
The East Coast is a six-hour flight and a three-hour time difference from California, the state where I was born and bred for 21 years. I grew up just outside of Sacramento, the cow-town capital; once a farming community, Elk Grove is now a flatland of strip malls, parking lots, cookie-cutter houses.
Growing up there, it’s hard to escape the agricultural pull of the Central Valley. I grew up picking cherry tomatoes off the vine for an afternoon snack; pulling lemons from the tree for a pitcher of water, carving pumpkins that we planted from seed in summer. I still think that the best kind of apricot is whichever one grows from our neighbor’s tree: a branch creeps over our backyard fence, and if you stand on your tiptoes, you can pick one still warm from the sunshine and inhale the most delicious and delicate apricot scent.
It was a childhood of unsupervised afternoons on my bike or at the playground, glasses of pink lemonade by the pool. It wasn’t cosmopolitan or cultured: it meant taking the train for a day in “the city” to go shopping at Macy’s, eat at a 50s diner with a jukebox, be awestruck of the height of the skyscrapers and the beat of the buskers.
At 25, I’ve lived in France and Australia, backpacked by myself through Europe and Southeast Asia. I’ve sailed from Panama City to Colombia and down the coast of Croatia, driven across the United States and around Iceland. I live in the concrete jungle that dreams are made of: New York City buzzes with energy, the hustle and the heels never sleep.
People often ask if I get lonely, if I get scared being that far from home. I’ve never really been able to grasp the question: why would I be lonely or afraid when there’s so much to see, when (really) I could be home within hours of deciding to go to the airport?
To me, home is my mom’s apple pie straight out of the oven and the three-bedroom on Hiddenspring with a pool and a driveway and watching Christmas movies with my parents. But it’s also this innate sense of peace, this comfort born of confidence. Home infused me with the belief that the best-tasting food grows on trees, that no one will bother you as long as you mind your own business, that the best way to spend an afternoon is fresh air and sunshine and your own two legs and a book.
And I guess that’s the thing: when home is always with you, it makes it easier to leave.