Someone asked me about my hometown today. It caught me off guard, and I sat in silence for a moment, because I didn’t know how to answer. It’s a tricky question really. The place that I claim as my “home”.
When I played basketball in college, they announced me as the 6’0” center from Huntsville (Sidebar: I’m not actually six feet tall, and, if I’m honest, I wasn’t much of a center either. But that’s neither here nor there).
When I was a contestant on the $100,000 Pyramid, Michael Strahan shouted me out as his one true and forever love “Eva! From New Mexico!”
Whenever I go to Spain, people ask me if I’m Cuban. When I was in Peru, everyone thought I was Brazilian. And when I was in Cape Verde this summer, everyone assumed that I was Cape Verdean and also that I lived in Lisbon.
So where the heck am I from?
My family moved around a lot when I was little. Like a lot. Like so much. By my 13th birthday, we had already lived in four different states. Today, my personal total is six states and three countries, so home is a supremely complicated notion. Sometimes, I tell people that I’m from Pleasanton (shout out to the Bay!). That’s where my family lived until I was six. That was my first home. But it’s so far removed now that I’m not sure that I’m still allowed to claim it. 🤔
As for where I grew up, any one of the six cities will fit the bill. They were the places where I fell in love with the Dallas Cowboys (my current landlady will literally evict me if she ever finds out), Krispy Kreme donuts, the veggie burgers from the Loma Linda Hospital cafeteria (seriously! So good), Sonic drive-ins, and Motown music.
There were pieces of home in each place, even though we sometimes only stayed for a year or two. The longest that I ever lived in a single place was when I was in Alabama for high school and college (although, in the interest of full disclosure, I actually moved to Spain to study somewhere in the middle of that time).
I have loved some places with all my heart and other places just a little (you know who you are). But I’ve never loved any place so deeply that I wouldn’t leave it under the right circumstances. That’s why it’s hard for me to talk about a “home”.
I’ve lived in 13 cities in my lifetime and traveled to dozens more (and contrary to the rumor that my friend Kathy’s mom started, I do not secretly work for the CIA 😂). I never stay in one place for too long, though. In fact, just last year, one of my friends asked me how I was able to make a living since I quit every job after one year and move to a different state. I laughed because, despite appearances, it’s not quite that bad. Three years here. Two years there. Five years in Santa Barbara. Two years in the Land of Enchantment. And another two years back in Sweet Home Alabama. I’m not just quitting jobs left and right. I’m simply moving on to the next opportunity. The next city. The next adventure.
Each time I move, I don’t think of it as the end of one place but as the beginning of another. And I’ve always loved new beginnings. Wait, that’s not true. My family’s nomadic ways taught me to adapt to new beginnings, and I adapted so well to the process of new beginnings that now I crave them. I need them. When I stay in the same place for too long, I get antsy and restless and long for new places and new faces. One of my mentors once told me that I have a “hot foot”. Another said that I “don’t let grass grow under my feet”. I just laughed and told them that I could find myself at home practically anywhere.
When I stay in the same place for too long, I get antsy and restless and long for new places and new faces.
Because maybe we’ve had the wrong idea about what home is. Maybe home is not any one place. Maybe home has always been more about how places fit into the fabric of who you are, rather than how you fit into those places. Maybe home is more about the connection that you feel than the place where you feel it. Perhaps that’s why I don’t mind darting off to heretofore unknown corners of the globe. Why I harbor (now-not-so) secret plans to open a Bed & Breakfast in the Caribbean and to eventually retire in Portugal. Why I plan my next vacation while I’m on my last vacation. And why my biological family sometimes has to remind me to come “home” for the holidays. (I promise to do better! … with the caveat that I’m currently planning a trip that will get me back on the afternoon of Christmas day, which I think we can all agree is an improvement from recent years).
Maybe home has always been more about how places fit into the fabric of who you are, rather than how you fit into those places.
I have found home all around the world. In Lisbon, singing impromptu Portuguese-English Little Mermaid duets with my A-1! In the Basque Country, speaking to my professor in Basque about her Randy Watson t-shirt. In Madrid, singing Beyonce songs (that literally no one requested) at midnight with my crazy friends. In Santo Domingo, Rio de Janeiro, and Havana. In Valencia, Athens, and Santa Maria. In Monaco, Cairo, and Biarritz.
I have found home all around the world.
So, to all the girls who’ve traveled the world when one hometown just isn’t enough, girl yes! Buy that ticket! Take that trip! And tell me all about the ways that new places have made you feel right at home.