I lived in Asheville, North Carolina for a few years, home to the author Thomas Wolfe, whose posthumously-published novel You Can’t Go Home Again is one of his more famous works. It’s a super long book and it’s kind of a bummer since it’s set during the Great Depression, but at its core is this enduringly relevant idea that I think all of us grapple with from time to time: the idea that your home changes constantly. You change constantly. Every day that you wake up, your home is no longer the home it once was.
Then, when you leave home, these normal changes take on the appearance of acceleration; as time passes, we feel less and less connected to the physical place or set of ideas or group of people that we call “home.”
I think about these concepts a lot. I have lived away from my former home for long enough now that the concept of “home” no longer means “the house I in which I grew up.” In fact, as an adult, home has come to mean a lot of different things in different contexts. I live in my own home, my apartment, furnished with things that I either bought or adopted from friends or came to acquire through some storied incident. My home is with my best friends and their dogs, bounding across Willard Beach for tennis balls in early October. My home is in New Jersey with my brother, sister in law and my two nieces. And my home, in many other similar and different ways, is at Hustle and Flow.
Now, I actually haven’t been into a class in about a month. I had some health stuff flare up, my daytime work became very overwhelming overnight, and I was grappling (poorly) with the chaos inherent in the beginnings of a new relationship, when choices about how you spend your time become skewed toward this exciting new companionship, even when you have something else you should be doing. Yes, it’s true you guys, you can absolutely feel like a stupid teenager who makes poor decisions and also be over 40. I’m living proof.
I tell you this story because when I think about going home in its various ways and meanings, it can have a certain anxiety attached to it. What will my father think about this new tattoo or the 10 pounds I gained, is he going to say something about it? Will my brother be angry that I missed Christmas this year? Ugh, there are dishes in the sink and recycling bags to take out, maybe I’ll just go hang at the coffee shop instead of heading home…
It’s this weird paradox. Like, everyone wants to go home, wants to be home and feel like we are at home. But if we stay away for too long, it can be a daunting task to come home. We feel like we might be judged for staying away, or we might have to hide certain aspects of how we’ve changed in order to please those who knew us as we were. When it comes to a movement practice, the discord becomes more concrete: they’ll think I’ve been so lazy! What if I can’t do the moves anymore? I got so fat and out of shape! It’s going to be so hard to get back on the floor, back on the mat. Maybe if I just wait one more day…
Hey, wait a second. Stop that! Nobody judges people like that, now do they? And if they do, do you really care what they think? Yeah, exactly. I’m excited to come home to my spot on the floor at Hustle and Flow because family always accepts you just as you are, doesn’t judge you for “doing you,” and knows that you have to live your life in the best way that you know how and that you can. You don’t have to impress family! Wear your sweatpants personality with pride, family will make you a snack and throw a knitted blanket over your legs and settle in to watch a whole season of G.L.O.W. with you.
I’m looking forward to returning to my movement practice tonight! Will you be there? Join me for the 7:00 pm Dancehall Hip Hop class with Steph, it should even be cool enough outside tonight that I won’t drip sweat all over you… unless you want me to. Hey, I don’t judge, we all have our stuff. Sign up here and I’ll see you in the orange room soon!