I used to think I was like a shark—that I’d die if I stopped moving. But then I saw that one episode of Mythbusters, where they actually held a shark still and it lived to tell the tale. Now I kind of think the opposite may be true: If I keep moving, it’s going to kill me. Not literally (hopefully) but metaphorically. I’ve been making geographical leaps for some time now—Atlanta to Breckenridge, Colo., to Seattle to Los Angeles and now back to Colorado. And whenever people have asked what inspired each move, my typical answer has been, “Oh, just looking for a change of scenery.”
In truth, though, I’ve been looking for my home my entire life. I used to have fantasies as a kid—and, well, as an adult too, I suppose—that I was given to the wrong parents at the hospital when I was born. My mother—or the one I’m told is my mother—was unconscious when I took my first breath of hospital air. Plus, it was more than 30 years ago. Didn’t babies get swapped a lot back then? What if some other baby grew up in the family I was supposed to be a part of?
My real parents, they live in a cozy two-story white house—somewhere that’s snowy in December—with a wreath of leaves, acorns and pine cones on the door (one of Mom’s hot glue gun experiments). When Brian and I come home for the holidays, Mom—my real mom—in her khaki slacks, pale blue turtleneck and her flour-covered apron, comes out squealing to hug us while Dad, smelling of pipe tobacco, gives me a wink and scoops up our 2-year-old daughter, Zooey, as Brian gets our bags. My older brother, now an assistant history professor at the local college, and his wife—tall with straight brown hair down her back, no makeup, just Chapstick and a sweet smile complementing the small, charming space between her front two teeth—we’ll call her Delphine; she’s all-American but her parents were big Francophiles—they both come out of the house too. My brother kisses my cheek and gives Brian the firm handshake/hearty pat on the back combo, while my sister-in-law and I exchange a tight squeeze.
Their two tow-headed kids run down the steps to greet Zooey and our Lab, Marley, bounding out of the car. Mom herds us all into my childhood home, smelling of cloves, apples and roast pork, to get warm beverages in our hands and snowy boots drying out by the door.
That Norman Rockwell painting of my imagined reality melted away for me earlier this year when after much therapy, self-help books, 12-step programs, meditation, prayer and self-reflection, I realized I’m never going to find my “real” family. And I’m never going to find my “real” home because—and here’s the real kick in the pants—I’m already there. I’m already home, no matter where I go. So I can stop looking. I can stop playing Goldilocks—this place is too cold, this place is too hot, this place is too big, this place is too small. There’s never going to be a “just right.”
But that said, here I am in my new town of Boulder, Colo., and it’s feeling pretty right so far. I’m still surrounded by boxes and occasionally get lost on my way to the grocery store, but I’m figuring it out one day at a time. And thus far, each day is feeling better and better.