I’ve always had a difficult time trying to explain where my home is, or where I’m from when I’m asked those questions. You see, unlike many people I know, I’ve moved around the country quite a bit. I started off in California, then made my way back and forth across the country for a grand total of seven moves. For those of you who struggle with math, that’s an average of 1 move every 3 years. Now you can see where the identity crisis comes into play. I’ve never stayed in a place long enough to say “I’m from [blank]”. The best I can come up with at this point is “I’m from the midwest”. I lived in Chicago 3 different times, I went to school in Cincinnati, and my parents recently moved to Cleveland. So that has been my go to answer lately. Nowadays, when I tell my story to Californians, they always tell me that I’ve come home, since this is where I was born. I only lived in San Juan Capistrano for the first 2 years of my life, so that’s a little hard for me to justify.
The fact of the matter is, I’ve been asked this question, “Where are you from?” for my entire life, and I have a feeling it’s not going to stop any time soon. Once I came to this realization, I started thinking of “home” as less of a physical entity and as more of an abstract idea. Some of the first images that pop into my head when I think of home are my friends at Xavier. I had the time of my life those four years in Cincinnati, and one of the most significant reasons for that is because of the family I made there. I don’t want to turn this post into a sob story about how much I miss college life, but it’s true. I loved every minute of it, the good and bad, because of the people who were with me along the way.
Another thing I think of when I hear the word home are my parents and dog, Max. Even though the place where they live changes frequently, they are always my family, and they will always be my home. Ironically, I’m writing this as I sit on an airplane enroute to my “home” in Cleveland.
And finally, I’ve recently started to discover my home here in Los Angeles, amongst the palm trees and the Pacific. I’ve found a home at Visitation parish. It’s a church right up the street from my house and from the first time I stepped through the doors, I felt a sense of comfort; I felt like I belonged. As soon as I registered as a new member, the pastor Fr. Jim wanted to set up a meeting just so he could meet me. He was so impressed with my year of service with the St. Joseph Worker program and my willingness to move to a new city where I didn’t know anybody. He even asked for my parents’ phone number so he could call them and tell them how impressed he was with me! So that is one place I now call my home.
Another home I have been adopted into is at my placement site, St. Joseph Center. From the day I started working there in the food pantry, I felt welcomed into the family. We had our annual staff retreat yesterday, and as I participated throughout the day, I got to observe this loving family in action. People from completely different programs and departments come together to form this family where everyone cares about each other. I never could have imagined working at a place like this amazing, but now that I’m here, I never want to leave. Every day I get to interact with clients from all walks of life, my clients come from Mexico, Russia, as well as the streets of Venice. I feel more and more at home at St. Joseph Center every day.
There’s a pretty famous quote you’ve more than likely heard before, “home is where the heart is”. I agree with that, but I like to add a little to it. My heart can be anywhere in the world, but if I’m not at peace wherever I’m at, that’s not home in my opinion. “Home is where the heart is at peace” is a little more close to reality. I’ve found peace in many corners of the world, and I’m happy to say one of those corners is Los Angeles.