There's no place like home

How the concept of "home" is changing for me

Hey - happy Sunday and thanks for opening this week’s #TheLifeofJLOWE newsletter!

Missed me last week? Sorry about that, I forgot to let you know I’d be Out of Office for the week, soaking up the Jamaican sun and enjoying Carnival in my home country.

Anyways, this week we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming, so thanks again for being here.

There’s no place like home

Throughout carnival season this year, the song that has been on repeat in my head is DNA - Mical Teja. The lyric that everyone can’t seem to get out of their heads is “no place like home”.

In fact, last year, one of the most played songs at Carnival was Come Home - Skinny Fabulous & Nailah Blackman. In that song, the lyric that stands out is the pleading line, “come home to me, come home to me”.

A big part of the love for those songs is rooted in Caribbean pride. It’s about being proud to call places like Trinidad or Jamaica our home.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that idea of home, what “home” means to me and how that applies to how I feel day-to-day and how I’ve been shifting my perspective on my own life.

No job search? No problem.

After graduating from college, I immediately moved to Miami and had about 2 months before I started my new full-time job. When I say immediately, I mean I graduated on May 28 and moved to Miami on May 29. There was no going home in the middle.

It was a blessing to not have to go through a job search in my last year of college because I just accepted a return offer from my junior year internship to work at the same company. I had it pretty easy during my senior year in terms of job hunting, so I definitely can’t complain. (This isn’t to say I didn’t work my ass off to get the internship and set myself up in this way, though.)

Here I am now, about 9 months into my first real full-time job, and to be honest, it feels like life is happening to me. It feels like I haven’t been in the driver’s seat of my own life in the past 9 months because I just went straight out of college into this job.

What is “Home”?

In fact, one of the funny things that I’ve noticed so far, is that even while working my full-time job, for some reason in my head, I still live in Jamaica. Is this true for anyone else reading this?

Like yeah, I live in the US, but I really live in Jamaica. I mean I’m working in the US, which technically means I live there, but it’s not home. So how can I be permanently living somewhere that I don’t call home? What is “home”?

Hmm. A bit of a conundrum here isn’t it?

Maybe it’s because the job is so new, or maybe it’s because I’m still so fresh out of college that I still haven’t grasped the permanence of living somewhere new and working a full-time job. Or maybe it’s because Miami is so familiar to me since I have family and childhood memories here, and Jamaica is so close geographically, that it almost feels just enough like home. Or maybe, just maybe, deep down, I’m more homesick than I care to admit to myself. (Disclaimer: I actually don’t know the answer.)

How “home” changed after I graduated

Here’s something that struck me the other day too. I went home during Christmas, and I went home during what would normally be my spring break in college, but in both instances, I noticed a slight shift in what those trips meant to me.

During college, I was living abroad, temporarily, around campus, to facilitate my education. I moved away from home, but I knew I’d never call Ithaca home because it was just where I’d live while I was completing my college degree.

My degree is done now, and I moved to Miami to work. But it still feels like I’m not ready to call this new city home. It still feels temporary, except now, when I go to Jamaica I’m going on vacation, rather than going home.

It’s not just going home to go home, it’s going home to get away from something (work). Yes, during college it was also vacation, but home was the default and school was the odd place out. Now, home is slowly becoming the odd place out, and the reality I return to is the US.

Am I making sense?

Basically, what “home” is has changed for me, because I’ve moved out. It’s changed because I work in a new city. But at the same time, what “home” is hasn’t changed at all, because my family, closest friends and the people I love are still there.

This is what I mean when I say that I’ve been thinking about what the word “home” means for me.

It’s not easy to leave home

Why does this matter, anyway?

It matters because I have a growing great deal of respect for anyone who moves away from home. For anyone who chooses to move outside of their hometown. Not even necessarily as drastic as leaving the Caribbean and moving to the US, but even as simple as moving from one state to a contiguous one.

It’s not easy. At all.

It’s this constant feeling of longing to be back to where you can recognize yourself and the people around you within a familiar context. It’s this daily challenge of having to code-switch, adapt and become a part of another culture and context that’s just familiar enough that you can get by, but still not exactly comfortable.

If you’re reading this and you might feel something similar, just think about the signs that you might be giving yourself. Why do you go to that Jamaican restaurant 30 minutes away at least once a month? Why do you go to every Caribbean dance that happens in your city, even though it’s not such a great event? Or if you’re like me, why do you try to start a Caribbean-identity-based organization everywhere you go? Lord.

Conclusion

Home is where the heart is.

That’s been true, and that will always be true for me.

Home is where my family is. My mom, my dad, my brothers, my grandparents, my cousins, my closest friends and family friends.

I think there’s true value in recognizing what you call home, and how you feel about where you call home. I have friends who hated their homes and have told me before that they want to move as far away as possible. Or others that loved home and moved back at the first opportunity they got.

However you feel about home, make sure that what you do with your life considers that feeling, because you want to be sure that you’re in an environment where you feel most loved and supported, whether that’s at or away from home.

What that means for me, I’m still figuring out, but I’m starting with defining “home” for myself. I’m starting off with my gut feeling of where I feel happiness, where I feel love and where I feel most homey. 😄 

Lots more on this thought process to come, as I figure more out about #TheLifeofJLOWE.

Subscribe to stay tuned. Sundays @ 9:00am EST.

Until next Sunday,

Justin

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