Friday, May 21, 2010

There's no place like home...

I'm at that point in my life where I'm starting to wonder if Dorothy was right.

That's not right, exactly - I believe that she was right, but for me, basically a lifelong nomad, I'm starting to wonder what that really is these days. Another adage about home says that home is where the heart is. But what happens when you don't quite know where your heart is? And I say that without melancholy or unnecessary self-pity, I actually mean it in the very best possible way.

Those who know me may know that one of the more difficult questions you can ask me and require me to give you one answer for is to ask my hometown - I wrote my college essay on it, in fact, and I'm still figuring it out. To synthesize: I was born in Chicago, and went back every year at least twice a year for probably 10-12 years (my mom grew up there, my parents were married there... we have a lot of ties still). I spent my formative years in Toronto, and though I lived there only 6 years it left an indelible impression in my heart and soul that, when my roommates laugh at my need to tell EVERYONE I meet from there that I once lived there, I can't explain. It's just part of me. And then there's San Jose, where I lived for the longest I've lived anywhere, where I grew up and went to middle school and high school and learned to drive and started to become a grownup.

Yet as I realized when I moved to New York for school, I never truly considered myself from California until I moved away from it. I do now, and yet if you ask where I "live" I will no longer tell you I live in San Jose and New York, I will only tell you I live in New York. And so I guess it's my "hometown" in that it is the town I currently call home. Though I wouldn't put it on the short list.

I can't define "home", however, as where my heart is because bits of my heart exist in all these places. In the strange, undefinable rightness that I feel when I'm in Chicago in spite of my having virtually zero cognitive memory of having ever lived there. In the part of myself that still feels Canadian, still longs in some strange and perverse way to go back to Toronto to discover the rest of the life I never had there. In the part of myself that loves the beach and freeway driving and smiles sentimentally at California songs and understands now that I'm not there what people love so much about it, what I love so much about it. And in the part of me that feels anxious when I leave New York, as though nothing's quite as right as it is when I'm in this crazy place.

I'm thinking of this because I spoke today to my family about their intention to move to, or at least nearer to, San Francisco from San Jose. Several months ago I had spasm of panic thinking my family was moving out of California to a strange house in a strange place I had no connection to, where I'd know no one. I was having a rough few weeks, and acute longings for home welled up in me in ways they had rarely ever done - indeed I can only pinpoint being so achingly homesick twice in the last 5 years, and 3 times in the last 13. Yet moving still basically within the San Francisco Bay Area leaves me excited for my family, but without the longing or the sadness of - potentially - never seeing "my" house again.

A friend mentioned tonight that her apartment is now her "real" house, after I referred instinctively to my house in San Jose as my "real" house. But who's more right? Because I think, actually, she is. My apartment is mine, I refer to it easily as home or my house. While I love San Jose and am at home there and have a house there, I accept that I am a visitor. But I'm still in a stage where, though they're both my home, neither is my home.

As I said, I've always been a nomad - just look at the way I answer my "hometown." I've lived at 10 addresses in 20 years, a number some people never hit in lifetimes. The house I took my first steps and said my first words in was not the house I went to preschool in, the house I won my first skating competition and had my first really, really big life dream in was not the house I first did homework in or hit puberty in or took my driver's test in or graduated high school in (okay those last two are the same, the rest really are all different). And none of these houses are where I hit a number of very important adult firsts, both conventionally consequential and non.

There is no place like home. But the idea is getting harder to define, and frankly, I don't suppose it ever will be. I will know where I feel at home, and I think perhaps that's something that I will know to be good enough for me. It's not for some people. But really, when I think honestly about it, I think it's the only way I've ever truly known how to look at it.

It's really strange. I get that. For people who could detail the formative-teenage years in one place, it's totally foreign. Hell it's still really bizarre to me, especially because the place I spent the most time and had come to call most easily my "home" is now indisputably unfit to carry fully the title, though still appropriate in some way. And yet as I say, it's what I've known. It's what I've always known. And my "where the heart is" sensibility doesn't feel characterized by division, but rather by multiplicity. I could never ever count myself anything but lucky for that, I think.

Someday I'll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me, I'll click my heels three times, and who knows where I'll end up? Not sure yet. We'll see where I'm calling home by then.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Epic Ice Cream FAIL.

Yeah. It's so important it deserves it's own blog post.

Tonight, I headed grudgingly to PathMark late to try and avoid the after work rush. Hips and feet protesting after my 115 block walk today (yeahhhh that's right), I trekked back out into the night to be able to feed myself in my apartment for the next several weeks.

Knowing one of my missions was to pick up ice cream for my roommate, I of course picked up ice cream for myself as well. Perusing the selections, I ALMOST got Ben and Jerry's Half-Baked froyo and Banana Split ice cream, but then AHA! Behold! Favorite dessert pseudo-indulgence of my childhood, Haagen-Dazs Mango sorbet!

I make my way to the register, have a small heart attack when I remember yet again that eating healthier costs way, way more than eating processed crap I can make in my microwave (seriously, if you want to take a look at the poverty-obesity link in America, go no further than my grocery store - okay I guess that's sort of far for some), bag my groceries, and take home my delicious ice cream, eager to unbag and eat.

Home now. Groceries unbagged. Purse back in room, Forever 21 purchases hung (actually that's a lie, but I'm writing it to remember to do it when I finish this). Delicious sorbet time! Entered kitchen. Retrieved it from freezer. Hmm, suspiciously soft for sorbet. Open container.


Apparently I do. God dammit.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Came here for school, graduated to the high life

I said I was going to ruminate on the actual ramifications of graduation, but the truth is I'm still very much trying to figure it out.

For the last seventeen years, I have been a student first and foremost, defined in large part by the school I attended, for better or worse. I filled out applications for jobs, apartments, surveys, etc. all with student as my profession, even in the later years - which is to say the last four months - of my time at NYU. And though years of schooling were always a means to an end, that end was typically, more schooling. But now, I face knowing what I pretended to always know - that unless I decide upon grad school (and, okay, I haven't ruled it out, but for the sake of this discussion let's say I'm not going), this all-important phase of my life is totally finished. I am now set to embark upon a totally new phase of my life, one with which my experience/familiarity/comfort level amounts to absolutely zero.

I told myself that I was going to take this week off. Goals include: sleeping, eating, doing absolutely nothing. Rationally, it made sense - when, on Saturday, almost all of my coworkers remarked on how tired I looked, I realized that I was. It's as if I've been running a dead sprint and only just stopped moving on Saturday. This dead sprint had been happening since January. And while I covered a lot of ground in my marathon (I'm mixing my running metaphors, but I don't run, so I feel like it's okay), that's a long-ass time to keep running. So this week was for staying away from Craigslist (for jobs - guiltily searching for new apartments allowed), resisting the urge to look at Backstage, not creating a to-do list.

I'm not, as it turns out, terribly good at this. I say as it turns out as if I didn't know this, but I have of course known this fact for most of my young life. Still this time it feels different - there's always an adjustment period to the summer, but I think it's the knowledge that this is not a temporary break from my ordinary schedule, rather that I have to adjust to this being my new schedule.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Siobhan Stevenson, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama, New York University Tisch School of the Arts.


I'm not even going to pretend that didn't feel super good to just say.

Also instead of bachelor I almost typed beachelor. Which is where I want to be after sitting through a 44 degree OUTDOOR graduation ceremony. But hey, it was at Yankee Stadium and Alec Baldwin was there.

More thoughts on the implications of graduating once all the feeling returns to my extremely cold body.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

So there IS an end to homework

It comes when you're about 7 days shy of graduation, and writing your last ever paper as an undergraduate. Or, you know, as a student.

I will never do homework again after I finish this paper. For my own personal life needs - learning monologues, reading plays, etc., sure. But never again as a student (watch, this virtually guarantees that I'll end up in grad school someday).

I'm in the middle of page 11 on what needs to be a 12 page paper, and I'm out of ideas. I can't help but wonder if this is my subconscious' way of telling me I don't quite know how not to be a student, that if I don't finish this paper then I won't yet be done and won't have to learn how to understand that.

It really doesn't help that I'm writing about what theatre is and why it's important, and despite having been through three years where theatre is basically all I've learned and thought about, I'm very much not sure that I know. More on this when I have time to write about how weird it is to know I'll never go back to Strasberg (at least not in the same way I've come to know it).

But seriously. How have I only just now hit the wall when I'm so close to finished? It seems too coincidental. Universe, what's the deal?