What constitutes a home? Foundation, familiarity, comfort, contentment in the lack of desire to be anywhere else; a place, a person, or a group of people. For many, regardless of physical location, home is with family. I strongly share this sentiment. But when it is not possible to be with family, there are other places I consider “home”. For example:
The Metro in Chicago (or in a crowd before a stage). A journey to this locally established music venue has always taken place in the dead of Chicago winter with the same best friend. The Metro is the right amount of run-down as any good venue should be, with a decorative main stage frame that’s passed so much local musical history from performer to audience and through its almost-familial musical communities.
Cafe Kopi in Champaign. More than the architecturally impressive Business Instructional Facility or Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, more than the Art Theater, more than my own various apartments, Cafe Kopi has offered a type of comfort similar to concert venues with the ability to feel simultaneously individual and connected. Kopi also contains all my favorite “small” things in life: relaxed atmosphere, hot drinks, quality food, agreeable music, soulful interior decoration. Part of me wants to travel the country searching for a cafe as good as Kopi -- and part of me never wants to know, because it is already known by locals and regulars that Kopi is the ultimate cafe.
London, England; St. Louis, Missouri; or anywhere on the go, in the driver’s seat of a car on a highway, on foot navigating an unfamiliar street that eventually becomes a sense of accomplished familiarity.
For the privileged few with stable, defined homes (those having reached the “love/belonging” or “esteem” portion of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs), it’s a wonder why we travel away from them. To experience new places, feelings, and things, to take a break from the constant lifestyle, to acquire inspiration; or because that innate sense of survival remains the one consistent factor. For me, it’s the same sense felt when in a crowd of people moving in the same direction, thousands of pounds of body and flesh involuntarily against my back. Overcoming that struggle for survival leads to comfort in some form -- and maybe eventually -- the creation of a home. In the event that our initial home is rendered useless or inaccessible, these experiences ultimately allow for the discovery of an alternate or “second” home.