Thursday, October 27, 2011

You Can't Go Home Again - Part 4

Parts 1 through 3 I wrote at one of my favorite places in Raleigh, NC – it’s the Global Village Organic Coffeehouse.  It’s located at 2428 Hillsborough St, across from NC State’s campus.  For about two years and some change that was a home away from home for me.  I was also an employee there for an all too brief duration and it’s probably my favorite place of work.  Caribou Coffee would be second in that pecking order, and my manager there is fantastic, but nothing really compares to the warmth and sense of belonging of Global Village.

What is it that makes a place home?

As I type this, I am now back in Columbus, Ohio (heh, at a Starbucks of all places).  I moved here just over a year ago, away from home.  Yet, my first night back, as I was riding in the car down 270, I didn’t really feel like I had left home.  Clearly, I wasn’t in the Triangle area anymore, but there was no sense of displacement; I did not find myself in unfamiliar surroundings.  Had I been driving, I would have been able to navigate the highways with the greatest of ease.

But it’s not just the familiarity of the area that has me nice and loose – it’s the people.

Over the last six months I’ve been building and establishing a life.  I began to embrace my role as a customer service rep at my job.  I developed a working friendship with my Navy recruiter as I began that process (and that’s a story and a half).  In April, I was introduced to a group of folks out of which I have a new friend base.  At my member church, I’ve deepened key relationships there.

Backing up a little bit, when I drove down from Ohio to North Carolina, I stopped in Asheville to have some pizza, beer and ping-pong action for a couple hours, reconnecting with an old high school friend.  I had never been to Asheville before.  Driving around, trying to find a parking place in the downtown area, I could have easily been overwhelmed and freaked out – and I have in lesser situations.  But I didn’t let it worry me – I was going to see my bud in a few minutes!  A bud I hadn’t seen in over ten years!

When we finally connected, it wasn’t as if the intervening years hadn’t happened, but still I knew, here was my friend; a part of my history as I am a part of his.  Some things about both of us have changed, but at our cores we’re the same and that shone through, allowing us to catch up and then talk about the future.  It was like being at home again.

Back in the Triangle, a lot of stuff has changed.  New businesses, roads, all kinds of things have sprouted up.  A lot has remained the same, but, for instance, the church I grew up in has switched locations.  Yet, attending the service there both Sundays, I never felt out of place; I saw a lot of unfamiliar faces, but there is a core of people present who I’ve known most of, if not all of, my life.  In the greater Triangle area there are even more friends I’ve gotten to know in recent years and I was able to visit with some of them.  In an area that has seen so much change and growth, I still felt as though I was at home again.

Back in Ohio, among friends I’ve gotten to know over the last few months, I feel like I am home again.

I can fit all of my possessions into my 2008 Saturn Astra.  My “permanent” address is that of an apartment.  Currently I have access only to a suitcase and laptop bag’s worth of my stuff and no access to my car.  Yet, I am perfectly at ease.

What is it that makes a place home?  The people, yes, but there’s something even deeper we’ll get to tomorrow…

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