Home Is Where the Cat Is

Bruno cute catMy husband grew up in Northern Maine. I grew up in Southern California. We were both looking to get out of Dodge and ended up in the Army. I joined after high school, and he joined after college. We met in Germany, got married in Alabama and have moved 10 times together. Our private joke was that we liked to be several area codes away from the family hub.

We used to say no kids, no pets, we travel light. We went where the jobs took us. Home is wherever we happened to be. Six years in Germany, two and a half in Cairo. Pennsylvania, Maryland, Alabama. Picked up a cat in South Carolina. Well, two really. One is gone, but his successor came with us to Texas. Bruno. We told him they like them big in Texas.

It occurred to me recently that I wouldn't know where to live if I could choose. I asked my husband, and he didn't know either. Our parents are gone. The siblings have moved from the towns where we were raised. New people live in the houses we grew up in. I looked up my house on Google maps, and they've done something strange to the garage. Nothing there but memories to call us back. Some of those memories are what drove us away in the first place.

I wonder what it's like if you never left or sunk in deep somewhere else. That seemed like a death sentence to me so many years ago, when I was more than eager to hit escape velocity. I relish the choices I made, but perhaps the price is that I have no sense of home other than being with my husband and cat. No sense of shared community, and I am trying to imagine what that feels like.

Is it warming? Energizing? Smothering? Everybody knowing everyone else's business? My husband and I have built this cocoon. We freak out if the doorbell rings. Who could that be? What do they want? I can't imagine a neighbor stopping by just to chat or some family member needing money or a ride somewhere. Sounds annoying, but maybe it's nice.

The question about where to live is somewhat loaded. Lots of factors go into a decision about where you live -- if not family then probably money or lack thereof. Would I like to live by the beach in San Diego? Yes. Airstream RVCan I afford to live by the beach in San Diego? No.

I could see doing the expat thing in a place like Costa Rica or Panama. We've talked about the RV lifestyle -- my husband said he could do it if we had a luxurious base camp. But for him, no house, no go. I hear the Pacific Northwest is nice ... or maybe an artsy town in the mountains?

Well, this is a silly discussion because I don't have to think about it. I still follow the work. But there will come a day when we will either stay where we are out of comfort or inertia, or we will make a new choice. I have a feeling our definition of a happy home won't change. The two of us plus cat. Slightly reclusive nomads who freak out when the doorbell rings.

Seems like we could do that anywhere.


Donna Pekar authors a blog called Rock the Silver, about aging with panache. It's about being fearlessly gray and relentlessly cool.

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