Some people say home is where the heart is, while Wikipedia says it is “a place of residence or refuge” that “is usually a place in which an individual or family can rest and store personal property.” Wikipedia, the slacker’s encyclopedia/the awesome researcher’s basic starting point (please?) continues by stating that “instead, home may relate instead to a mental or emotional state of refuge or comfort.” Having lived in a bunch of different places for various amounts of time, it’s difficult to adapt, commit, or invest enough energy/time/money into all of them such that they could be considered my “home.” I said to myself the other day, “Clark, you stud you, what exactly do you think home is? What do you consider to be home?”
I’ve given my own theory a decent amount of thought, jotted down some notes, and even said it out loud once. Without further ado,* here it goes:
As a preface (that is actually following a preface – is this a metapreface?), allow me to explain a little bit about myself and the way these thought-cocoons unravel. Here’s the deal. I think a lot. All the time. About a lot of stuff. I think it comes from the fact that I grew up in a house of four kids and we were always talking about something, so whenever I’m off by myself, my brain continues to churn. When I lived in Madrid, I lived far enough from the center that on any given day, I was on the metro for a total of about three hours. I read a lot, but I also thought. Now that I’m here, and skipping a lot of time before and after Madrid, I still think a lot because I do pretty much everything all by me onesies. As long as I can remember, though, my best thoughts come about when I’m in the shower. Honestly. I remember running out of the shower one day in my first semester of grad school and scribbling something that ended up being the thesis statement of my first grad school term paper. That idea took me to California, where I got to convince other Spanish nerds that I knew what I was talking about.
Aaaaaaaanyway, where was I? Oh yeah. When I was in the shower the other day, and yes I do take an occasional shower, I realized that yes, in my tiny dorm so far away from the city center, I was at home. How did I know? Because I was taking a good shower.
So what does A have to do with B? Wouldn’t comparing the two be like comparing apples and… showers? Hear (read) me out. Have you ever lived somewhere where the shower just plain stinks? I sure have. Believe me. In 2008 I moved to Madrid, where I lived in a smallish apartment just on the fringe of the posh area with Ricardo, 40, and his wife Ana Pilar, 30. The three of us were like a tiny family – I was the son/nephew/cousin/younger person who lived in the other bedroom. As long as I paid my third of the groceries, Pili cooked for me, because heck, “what’s another handful of rice or chicken cutlet”? Were we close? Kind of. Were we comfortable? Definitely. Happy together? Of course. Was I at home? Nah. I wasn’t really fond of the daily commute or the lack of internet connection. Frankly, something seemed off.
When I lived on West Main Street my junior and senior year, that was home. I lived with three of my best friends and we only had fun. They were the brothers I never had (no offense, Mom and Dad). My new college house, on Kells Avenue with my friends Bagel and Russ, is also home. So is the little tiny dorm I live in now. You’d think that the two college houses would be home because of the friend/family factor, which is true, but that’s not entirely it. The dorm I have here is the curveball because nine times out of ten I would choose to live with anyone rather than live alone. The uniting factor? The shower.
In my little apartment in Madrid, the shower was the worst. The. Worst. There was a super duper fine line between zero degrees Kelvin and however hot the Sun is. Honestly. I hated showering there because either I’d become a clarksicle or I’d turn into the guy who burned his hand before finding the Ark of the Covenant… after looking at it. Also, there was no fan, so we had to shower with the window open… even in Madrid’s cold winter where it even snowed once. Oh, and the shower was maaaaaybe two feet by two feet. I hated showering there so much that I only did it when I had to.
This was before I got contacts. I still shower in the hat, though.
Have you ever moved into a place and struggled to take dominion of the temperature controls? Me too. It usually takes me a good two weeks to get a flawless victory over the shower. Is that the only criterion for the constitution of “home”? Nope. But it’s definitely a good start. I can’t imagine calling a place “home” if I can’t take a good shower. This guy has to think to hard about nothing, maybe even pop out a thesis or two, and he needs a dependable place to do it. Bed? Desk? Library? No sir. There’s something about the flowing water that really gets my noodle going. Should I go find a river or stream? Maybe. But the shower is closer and warmer. At my parents’ house, on West Main, Kells, and here in Granada, I have control over that which bathes me. Granted, the sense of belonging is paramount to any home, which definitely helps one stay comfortable and in good spirits. I challenge you, though, to put a shitty shower into the homiest of homes and see what happens. You’d be miserable, too.
Now for some real news. I’m leaving this home (Granada) soon to move back home (Wilmington) until August, when I move into my college home (Newark). Things have come up that tell me that I should be in Delaware sooner rather than later. Since my teaching – if you can actually call it that – comes to an end officially on May 31, I’m heading out on June 6. I’m totally okay with cutting my stay here short, though, because a) I know I’ll be back, b) I’m going from home here to home with Mom and Pop, c) I get to see Olive, and d) I get to see my Delaware friends. Mostly C. Believe it or not, as stinky as it is to leave my favorite city in the world, I’m actually excited to come home.
I can’t wait to shower with my parents and Bagel and Russ. Wait, what?
*with further adon’t?