I didn't really have to think about how to respond, yet to avoid looking like an emotionless robot, I tilted my head toward the sky, squinted my eyes and replied, "Well, that's an interesting question. I guess that's the hardest part about nomadic living."
I don't remember my first days as well as I remember my lasts. I'm not sure why that is, yet I can surmise it's on account of the bad outweighing the good. This theory comes into play when I consider that leaving the old was always based on some good feeling usually about some bad taste.
When my parents had announced we were leaving our home in the Valley, I was thankful because I had gotten myself in some knee-deep drama that would've blown over in time-- like it always does-- but that I neglected to see-- like every 16 year old did. I didn't see the house in Fresno until the day I arrived. We lived off the last exit of a developing freeway, way out east. There were cows grazing on open land, orchards of peach trees, grape vineyards, and deserted fields with scattered unwanted car parts. It felt like a sauna: "Summer in Fresno, 2003," and all the agriculture left such a distinct smell, that whenever I find myself driving back, I roll down my windows as soon as I enter the San Joaquin Valley and allow it to fill my car and wrap itself in my hair. All of these subtleties that I once hated have become the things I love the most about that old town.
I found myself thinking on the drive that so much had happened from the time I drove into Fresno, until the day I drove out: my parents divorced, my dad missed my high school graduation because he was in prison (he inevitably ended up committing suicide in late 2006,) my sister had joined the Coast Guard and was living in Florida, and my mom had accepted a promotion that took her back to Los Angeles. And it's weird because I don't consider myself to be from Fresno, but in retrospect, I did more growing up in those 4 years than what I did in the 16 that I was living in L.A. On that day, you packed me up some cookies and pastries and didn't bother to offer a cup of coffee (I didn't drink caffeine then.) You walked me out to my car and it was then that I told you the biggest lie in the 4 years we had been together: "Everything will be alright."
Leaving Fresno was extremely easy because I had exhausted my time there. On top of all the bullshit that happened, I was in some fucking relationship I didn't want to be, but didn't know how to get out of (those first loves.) Don't get me wrong, I love Sam with all of my heart, and I always will. But he and I both knew the love between us wasn't there, and we were only together because we didn't know how to be apart, and because it was easy. I saw San Jose as opportunity in more ways than one.
The sun shined in the Tower, but as soon as I'd go over the hills of Pacheco Pass, it'd start to rain. I always said that on the day I'd leave you, I'd play Modest Mouse's "Ocean Breathes Salty." But on that day I realized I misplaced my CD, and I haven't been able to find it since.
I had a roommate when I first moved to San Jose, and within a week she was gone. I'm the most thankful for this event, and I'm sure she is as well (she now has a beautiful baby son.) I moved out of my mom's house, moved to a different city, and technically did it alone. Let me tell you, it's hard living alone. It's even harder living alone in a city where you don't know anyone (at least not that you're aware of.) I spent a lot of nights crying, asking myself why I left, if I should bother coming back, if it'd be worth it to come back, and so on. Things got easier when I made friends, like they usually do. I met some extremely interesting and extremely cool people in San Jose. I think a lot of it had to with how quickly my mentally changed-- survival made it happen so. I started to enjoy living on my own, and I discovered a hidden talent of mine: cooking.
On the day I left San Jose, my mom came to gather my furniture. I had to leave some things behind, including a couch that my ex's family had given me. The guys were too lazy to move it past the apartment walkway. (Your couch is in some living room of some house of some family in San Jose.) I crossed state lines around 3pm and pulled over on the side of the highway to take two polaroids: one behind me, of California, and one in front of me, of Arizona.
I'm not sure how long I'll be here, but the thought never crossed my mind upon the day of arrival in the last 2 cities. I do like it so far, though. And I'm the happiest I've been in a very long time.
So to answer his question: I guess home really is where the heart is.