Last summer I lived out of my tent in Alaska for three months. The majority of my camping was spent in the woods behind University of Alaska Fairbanks. I became somewhat of a legend amongst those who knew of me. I was affectionately called an elf, hobo-bum, whimsical creature, or most frequently as the old man of the woods (think Bombadil). I enjoyed these descriptive sobriquets. I see myself explained and understood somewhere in the gradient between these endearments.
I was perplexed by my current place and setting in time, because I prefer to be moving forward ideologically, career-wise, and creatively while simultaneously wrapped up in my notion of what freedom is. I only met two of these preferences — freedom and creative output; I started working on my webcomic, which to this day is a source of output. This unease initiated hours of pondering about home and one’s sense of being.
Why was I unhappy when I revel in freedom? In retrospect, I see my unease as a result of not adhering to my culture’s narrative of progress. My future looks bleak when I am free. Freedom is defined differently depending on whom one asks. To me, it is mostly akin to free spirit. Can one be free in the truest sense within the confines of a house? Is home and house synonymous?
Home is a feeling. A feeling that allows for one to be comforted by familiar, or in some cases unfamiliar surroundings; the American poet, E.E. Cummings states home is “anywhere but here.” A house is a building that can be a home. I’ve lived in plenty of houses that were not my home.
I find comfort in traveling because of the discomfort that change and the unknown brings; an ill routine is the sculptor of regret. That being said, I am human and seek comfort at all costs but do my best to mitigate the damages that comfort brings, such as complacency and status quo by frequently inflaming my own personal boundaries. I travel extensively: on the road working seasonal jobs, exploring far away lands, or future tripping via daydreams.
In my youth, home was simply any bedroom I could decorate, modify, or manipulate into a sense of artistic safety. My rooms were full of stimulus: stolen street signs, paintings, Christmas lights, and plants, to name a few. I had a lime tree at one point that shriveled in an unspoken protest against my nascent gardening meanderings. My room was a place that offered sanctity; a haven from noise and unknowns.
This home of my youth was in the arid land east of the Cascades, a land I cursed and battled with for years. A land I have vowed to never set foot in. A land that has left its mark on my identity; a mark I vainly deny to this day.
In the Pacific Northwest I shook hands with nature and cast off the fear of unknown ailments and disasters waiting to afflict my body by boldly confronting life without electricity; I started hiking, fishing, and backpacking. I was amazed by everything: the trees, the mountains, and my own personal oneness with nature. Over the course of a decade I explored many parts of the Cascades and fell in love, but sadly they never became home because I had yet to know what home felt like.
For a short moment I found an apartment that was almost my home in a Seattle, WA after I bought, stole, bribed and cheated my way into acquiring 60+ milk crates and made myself a room within a studio that contained a makeshift wall full of books, two guitar amps, and a door. But, something had changed within myself, I had laid eyes on the beauty and freedom that nature offered. I was converted by the god Mount Rainier to a religion unlike any I had ever practiced before. No, my home lies elsewhere.
My positionality has changed greatly over the years, and I feel as if I am slowly unplugging myself from a system I never really belonged to. It is difficult, nearly as difficult as when I took the scalpel to Christianity and became an atheist/pagan/wizard/druid years ago.. I feel the same sense of liberation within my heart I felt then. The body knows the way and I am listening.
So what is home other than a feeling? It is a distant glow in my future. I have actively been preparing for when I do find my home by teaching myself how to make traditional longbows, pickle fruits and vegetables, blacksmith, grow my own medicinal garden, forage wild vegetables, leatherwork, and homebrewing to name a few.
With all this in mind I look forward to my home. A home that at one point in my life I never thought existed or cared about. A home that contains vibrant greens or earthy desert tones; it does not matter. A home that sometimes takes on a new hue, but the path leading to there is constant. Home is a feeling and it feels good to have a place to call “home” wherever that may be.
Journey onward fellow seekers.