when home is always with you.

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.

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18 Responses to when home is always with you.

  1. Lesley says:

    This is so beautiful, Christine. Thank you!
    Lesley´s last blog post ..The Meaning of Mother’s Intuition

  2. Jo says:

    I absolutely love this post. My husband is South African, but we live in Belgium only a 20 min drive away from my hometown and even the hospital I was born in. Gary misses his homeland dearly though and often dreams about moving back (Lord, help me) or just moving back for a while. That thought scares the living daylights out of me. But that last sentence ‘when home is always with you, it makes it easier to leave’ … I will keep that in mind for the future!

  3. This is a great post. I’m away from home right now too. Perfect read for my morning.

  4. Kirsten says:

    Could not love this post more. It wouldn’t even be possible. The last line sums up things for me so well it’s like Christine read my mind!
    Kirsten´s last blog post ..FriFotos: Making Waves in Belize

  5. Jennifer says:

    Absolutely beautiful read. And I’m you, flipped. Out here in SoCal, I’m always thinking about my old apartment in NYC.
    Jennifer´s last blog post ..Hiking Forest Park in Portland, Oregon

  6. I like the last sentence and maybe that`s where I`m different. Home to me is still my friends and family and the place I grew up, making it harder to leave. You also say “when (really) I could be home within hours of deciding to go to the airport?” but what if you`re not just a few hours from home, which would be in my case on the other side of the world? How do you deal with it then? How do you deal with friends you`ve known your whole life and need you in certain situations? How do you deal with family that gets sick and you`re half away around the world? Maybe I have to look at home in a different way…

    • Christine says:

      No matter where I am in the world, I could always be home by the next day–maybe not in two hours, but likely in 24. I think that’s a “worst case scenario” that people like to inflate–it’s not immediate, but it’s never impossible to be home tomorrow. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to maintain my friendships through letters and phone calls. We’ve established a friendship of support–maybe that’s not being able to be the person who picks you up when your car breaks down, but I’m always there (although perhaps only virtually) after a breakup. I’m also very lucky that my family has been very supportive of my travels–there may come a day when I need to be closer to take care of my parents, but that day is not here yet. Luckily, I feel very secure in my relationships and my relationship with my home that I can fully enjoy these adventures away while they’re still possible.
      Christine´s last blog post ..The best of Iceland, via Instagram

  7. Kendra Thornton says:

    Hi Ashlee,

    I have a quick question about your blog…could you please email me when you get a chance? Thanks so much! P.S. You have a beautiful family!!

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  11. Kristen says:

    Love that line at the end: “when home is always with you, it makes it easier to leave.” So true! Such a comfort to keep home close to you wherever you go
    Kristen´s last blog post ..Swept up by Prague

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