I've been back from California for a few days now and still in a funk. For the first time since I can remember, I have jet lag. I'm sleeping past 1 a.m. and spending what precious little winter daylight there is in a haze. Yesterday I even took a midday nap, which I haven't done since preschool! Even back then, I fake napped so I could hang out with the big kids in the kindergarden classroom for the rest of the afternoon. Such a nerd.
In California, I swapped productivity for exhaustion and had little motivation to do anything except eat, sleep, and scroll. Scrolling was actually more fruitful because I was back on the same time zone as almost everyone I know, so I got all the mundane updates (no offense) in real time. Dopamine at scale.
There was no internal or external compass telling me I should exercise or write or cook. (RIP to the workout clothes I packed). Maybe it was because of the holidays, or winter, or the omicron variant, but maybe it was also because moving to a new country has been much more exhausting and draining than I’ve been willing to admit. So when I visited home, I finally felt safe enough to let it all go and just exist.
However, something else also happened.
When visiting my mom's house, I felt truly comfortable for the first time ever. After all these years, I finally felt at home.
If your parents still live in the residence you grew up in, this may be irrelevant. But my mom bought her house long after I left for college, so I didn't grow up in there. I don't have memories of family dinners, birthdays, or even of decorating my room. For years, I didn't even know which drawer the forks were kept in. Whenever I asked, she scolded me for not knowing where things were in my "own house," to which I'd retort that this isn't my house, and then it'd all fall apart.
I have "my own room" in this house, although until now, it was always just a room I slept in when I visited. My mom has decorated it with all the things I liked pre-college, so it's become a time capsule, both familiar and foreign, outdated yet still very true. Johnny Depp, the Beatles, a battery operated flying pig, a comic book about bunny suicides. My interests were weird but unmoored by the pressure to monetize or network or fit in. I didn't care if people judged me because they didn't know shit about me. Only I knew me.
Where is that fearlessness now?
When I arrived at my mom's house last week, I pulled out the forks from the correct drawer on the first try, and it scared me. I wanted so badly to leave this place because it didn't feel like home, yet here I was. I finally knew where these fucking forks were, but now I've moved to a whole new continent. For the past year, I've been trying to create a new home when home has been right here in this stupid ass drawer. Did I fuck up? Am I the stupid ass?
When you have the means, California is comfortable. And for the first time, I felt that too. But I also think that it's hard to be creative when I'm too comfortable. Most of my creativity has come in times of discomfort—physical, mental, romantic, financial. But this trip back was so comfortable that I collapsed into it, eating and sleeping and playing with our adorable dog for days and days. It was glorious but disquieting. Comfortable but not comforting.
London isn't comfortable, and it's not even close to being home. Every other day I panic that we'll never figure it out here and it will remain a big, bustling conundrum inaccessible to us. People will visit and I won't know where to take them, and I'll always have to use my phone to map directions because I won't know where the nearest tube stop is.
But after this trip, I realized that home takes a long time to create and remember. Years in fact. It's frustrating AF, especially for someone like me who craves stability 24/7 (more on that in another newsletter). But maybe that's just how it is. And maybe right now as we still navigate our new lives in London, I'm not supposed to know which drawer the forks are in, not yet.
Semi-Homemade Brioche Bread Pudding
My mom didn't know I was going to visit (surprise!) and promptly assigned me a Thanksgiving dessert, so I made this rich, custardy bread pudding with brioche from a local bakery. She "complained" that she'd have to eat the leftovers for breakast, but we all know she ain't mad.