Today marks 50 days, or just over seven weeks, since Liz and I left Missoula to begin a trip to Korea for three weeks, then Southern California for a month.
It's been a wonderful trip, truly wonderful. I got to experience Korea with my wife and her family, experiencing foods she had only talked about, or that I had eaten less authentic version of. I even managed to meet up with two separate groups of friends while in Korea, one that is living there for a year, and the other that just happened to be on holiday there when we were.
In Southern California we've spent a wonderful time in San Diego, visiting Liz's middle sister's family, my dad, and some of my friends. I even had the chance to live with my good friends Michael and Marissa for five days while my dad was out of town and Liz was in Atlanta for a conference. So much fun.
We headed back up to the LA area for thanksgiving and spent some more time with Liz's oldest sister's family (whom we traveled to Korea with), as well as a few days with Liz's mom.
We're tired though. Really tired and we want to be home.
Liz was describing the feeling the other day and she used a word to describe it that I thought was perfect. She described our travels and our vacation as indulgent, and that we were tired of indulging. It's as if you were to eat out every meal at restaurants. Yes they're delicious, but also usually very rich and heavy, and after a while you'd love to just have a nice and fresh home cooked meal.
For the past few days as I've had this longing for home, I'm trying to understand what that place means. For now it certainly means a two-bedroom apartment in Missoula that we have the keys to and pay rent for, but it more then that.
We've had a number of friends and family ask us "is Missoula home now?" and I haven't been sure of what to answer. My struggle with the question is that it feels like it's asking about both the present and the future at the same time.
Saying a place is home seems to mean that it's home now, and that we're settling in for the longer-term, that it'll continue to be our home in the years to come.
It's the confusion of those two senses that gives me pause. Is Missoula the place that I yearn to go back to right now? Absolutely. Does that mean Missoula is home? I suppose for now it does.
What I think I miss more than anything isn't a particular feature or aspect of Missoula, although there are plenty that I'll be glad to get back to, but rather what I'm missing is a place that Liz and I have created together, that's ours, that we inhabit together jointly.
As we've traveled we've been a guest to someone or somewhere. Either living temporarily in an AirBnb in Korea, with someone else's furniture and belongings, or as guests in the homes of our friends and family, where we are welcome, but still not in a place of our creation.
The apartment that Liz and I share in Missoula feels like our place. It reeks of us. Our belongings are there, our laughter is there, our decisions are there, it just feels of us.
That magical and special place that Liz and I share happens to be in Missoula right now, but that's not a statement on the future. That place could change next year or the year after, or who knows when (we're at a stage in life where even the next six months are hard to predict).
To me home is where Liz and I have created a home, together. That's what I'm longing to get back to. To that place we both inhabit, not as a guests, not as travelers, but simply as us, two lovers in a wild world.
I'm curious, what does home mean for you?