Posted by: joha5 | April 7, 2010

Home is Where the Hope is

Sometimes it is weird to think that I have spent my entire adult life in another country.  When I moved to London I never really experienced the dreaded ‘culture shock’ that your parents or universities may warn you about.  I definitely had a learning curve on a number of things (ie. taxes, vocabulary, transportation system, common etiquette, etc.) but none of it was ‘shocking’ to me.  In fact, it was unbelievably exciting.  Even when I thought that I had learned it all there was always something else that would pop up on my radar that I had never seen before.  To some people this may sound like hell but, to me at least, this is the essence of life – learning to navigate the world until you are comfortable enough to call it home. 

To leave behind everything and everyone that you have ever known and go to a different country is no small task and I often find that I take it for granted – that is until I am blatantly reminded that I am more used to the way of life abroad rather than here.  To articulate all of the things that I find different or fascinating about living in Washington versus living in London (and vice versa) could take up an entire book so I won’t even begin to delve into that here.  However, I often find that I question the notion of home and where it is, if it exists, and if I will ever get there. 

Home was always Washington, D.C.  Even when I was studying at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania for 4 years, D.C. was home.  End of discussion.  I studied abroad in London in the spring of my junior year and after spending 5 months over there I knew that I wanted and had to go back.  As a result, I decided to pursue my Masters Degree over there at The University of London.  I was only supposed to be gone for one year but one quickly turned into 2 and 2 turned into 4 and before you knew it I had been there for over 5 years.  I think it was somewhere in there that I lost my idea of what home really is.  When I came back to D.C. I realized that my physical home was no longer my ‘home’ anymore.  It isn’t that things had changed but I realized that I had outgrown it and my mother realized that she missed her personal space more than she knew.  So if D.C. wasn’t home and London wasn’t home then where exactly was it?

D.C. still had the vast majority of my friend’s, it had the weather that I wanted, it had the culture that I knew implicitly, and it had everything I was used to.  London, however, had a culture that I could learn from, it had a small but amazing group of my friends, it had more going on in it that you could ever imagine, and – perhaps most importantly – it never ever got boring.  A job would go a long way to helping me decide where home will be (at least for the time being) but it certainly won’t be the definitive factor.  There are days when I couldn’t be more happy that I came back to the United States and then there are days when I wonder just exactly was I thinking when I left London and I question why I ever left in the first place.  It seems that, as of now, home is everywhere and home is nowhere and it is being in this constant limbo that weighs on you everyday. 

I know that this problem will be solved at some point in the future and probably without me actively trying to answer it but this question seems to plague every single 20-something that I have ever met.  It almost becomes an obsession to figure out where you belong in the world, what your role is, how you define it, and what is the next best step to take.  The decisions that you make now are packed with pressure because it takes you on a path and you have no idea where this path ends up.  There are no do-overs, no second guesses, and no redos.  This is it.  This is life and we are living it. 

Ultimately, I am applying to jobs in New York City, Washington, D.C., and London.  My life is an open book and where I end up I can honestly say I could care less.  Sometimes you decide which path to take and other times the path chooses you.  All I know is that when I look back on this period in my life it will all seem so natural and obvious and the path that I end up going down will seem like it was the perfect choice.  But for now, many of these frustrating questions linger.  I am already going down a path and I can see it all behind me so clearly.  Now if I could just get a tiny glimpse of what was to come…then maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t be so damn stifled by these questions all the time.



  1. well put, Ms. Bradshaw 😉

    I just had an idea for a show that you and I could pitch to NBC (Jerry and George style):

    “Unemployment in the City”


  2. As silly as it sounds, I definitely believe in the phrase, “Home is where your heart is.” And I think you can have many homes. A part of my heart will always be in Summit (where I grew up), a part of my heart even resides in Carlisle. I think “home” is an ever-changing term… but that’s just me!

    Home is where my HORSE is! 😉 Miss you Jthan!

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