I have lived so many places over the years, they all start to run together. I confuse the North End of Boise with The Heights in Houston. Did I catch that fish on the Snake River or was that the James? “Oh yeah, Target? It’s on Kirby by Reliant. Shit, sorry, wrong town. It’s on Main Street in Destin.” Did I see that band in Austin? Houston? Boise? Richmond? I couldn’t even begin to tell you.
I grew up in rural Botetourt County, Virginia. I also grew up in a family of alcoholism. When I was younger, I’d go to my room, slam the door shut, and in doing so, broke it too many times to count. I would take an old baseball and throw it against the wall as hard I could. I got so mad one day, I threw it right through the window. My dad built that house when I was 3 years old. He’s talked about burning it to the ground. “No love lost in this place.”
I moved away at 20 years old. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen my dad cry. I met a guy from Texas. He wanted to go back, and I wanted to go with him. We literally put what little we had in trash bags, threw them in the back of the car, and headed out. My dad said, “Meet me at the bank so I can say goodbye to you.” It was a convenient place on our way out of town, so I did. He gave me the side hug, stuffed a thousand dollars in my pocket, wiped a tear from his face, and got in his car and left. So did we.
Since that day, I haven’t had a home. I’ve lived places. I’ve lived back in my hometown even. My family is there, some of my friends are still there. But it isn’t truly home to me. Botetourt, Roanoke, Richmond, Austin, Pearland, Houston, Boise, Destin. I haven’t found a place where I belong. Some of that was beyond my control. Most of it was my fault. I didn’t try very hard. Instead, I bailed for something new. I did that again and again. And I’m doing it now. Again.
So what’s the difference this time? Fuck if I know. I’m going back to Boise, and I’m going to try a different approach. I’m going to learn to fly fish if it kills me. Going to climb Mount Borah, the highest peak in Idaho. Going to drag my friend Kyle to Coeur D’Alene, Bend, Calgary, and a couple other places, whether he knows it or not. Kyle, I know you’re reading this. Climb out from behind your desk, because you’re going. I’m going to meet some people in my construction classes. Maybe they’ll take pity on me and teach me the difference between drywall and plaster. Maybe I’ll fit in perfectly in my little neighborhood on the Boise Bench, and be living the life of Riley. I have high hopes, but I’ve been down this road before. I know it all too well.
And what I can tell you is, it’s been a lonely journey. I have great friends, my family supports me, and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people, and I’ve seen some wonderful sights along the way. But it’s been a solitary road to walk. So, as I look around my apartment in it’s total disarray–as I pack boxes one more time–I think about how the nomadic life has brought me so much joy, and yet, so much loneliness. I need a home. Not the place I grew up, not the place my parents chose to raise me. I need to decide what “home” is to me. When I find it, I’ll know. It could be through another person, a kick-ass job, a wonderful, inclusive group of friends. Hopefully all of those things rolled together. I need grounding. Even Edward Abbey was married five fucking times. Even the most solitary of us are looking for something, and you can’t find all the answers to your problems on the slickrock. I’m doing the best I can, but it isn’t easy. My life is up in the air, and while I’m not sure I’d have it any other way right now, I’m also beginning to realize… I don’t know any other way, either.
So, even though I leave Destin in 8 days for some awesome new adventures (the Keys! Dry Tortugas! The Everglades!), and I know I’ll have some really amazing things to share, right now I feel like leaving you with this:
“So let’s pour another round for dreams we never found, and laugh until the tears fall from our face. And when they finally send me home, I can’t make that walk alone. There’s just too many memories. Another time, another place.”