Yet even though my birthplace looks and feels different, in many ways it is exactly the same. With one exception. It's no longer "home."
The dictionary defines home as "the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household." That means my home is now in Florida. It's been over ten years since I relocated and the first several years I continued to identify myself as a New Yorker. My accent, fast pace walk and clothing identified me as one. Yet the longer you live somewhere the more you start to assimilate and before long you have a new "home" and a new identity. I suppose I am now a Floridian.
There is a wonderful quote by an unknown author, that says, "Sometimes home isn't 4 walls, it's 2 eyes and a heartbeat." This is such a simple, yet profound statement. What is home, truly?
Is it where you were born, raised, live, or spend most of your time? Or is it simply wherever and with whomever makes you feel loved, safe and wanted?
I believe it's a little of both. The reason New York is no longer my home, is not just because where I reside is physically different, but because the "home" I moved away from no longer exists. My parents are gone, I no longer share a family with a partner, my career is no longer on Wall Street and all my loved ones that are still in NY have grown into new lives. People no longer live in the old neighborhoods and the old neighborhoods have grown into places I don't recognize.
This is what is known as change. This is the first visit I feel it acutely. It leaves me a little nostalgic but also very happy that there has been so much growth in our family. My oldest child has come home to NY to live, but seeing him as an adult in one of our old neighborhoods, leaves me feeling a little off balance because the image doesn't fit. We lived in his neighborhood when he was two years old, forgive me for believing time has passed in lightening speed.
While home is now with my two youngest children and grandchildren in Florida, New York remains my home away from home. The sights, sounds and smells all remind me of wonderful times growing up and the carefree days with colleagues before the tragic events of 9/11. It brings back fond memories of being in love and having my children. I miss the art, culture, and excitement that only New York can provide but these days I can only take the fast pace in small doses.
New York may no longer be my physical "home" but it is still home, as no other place can be. Ultimately my home will forever be in the eyes and heartbeat of those I love and those I love are in many places.
May those you love be "home" for the holidays, whether physically or in spirit.