Oooo I’m Back in Your Inbox Again!

This one will be shorter, open-ended and hopefully interactive (you’ll see) because it’s not really a proper story, it’s just a moment and an ongoing self-reflection.

Anyhow I’m being vague for no reason. Let’s just get into it.

Where is Home?

I recently flew down to South Florida to take care of some family stuff with Lil about fifteen minutes from where I grew up and seven minutes from where we bunkered for the first 18 months of the pandemic. My father generously let us stay in his place near the ocean, which significantly sweetened the situation.

It had been two years since we’d moved back up north to Brooklyn, and all I wanted was to collapse into the sea and let all the jangly NYC stress I’d been holding in my jaw/neck/shoulders/gut unravel and flow out of my body into the Atlantic Ocean.

We flew down on Frontier Airlines. Don’t ever fly Frontier. It’s a shit-show.

After riding that city-bus-in-the-sky, we arrived at my dad’s, dropped off our luggage, changed into swimsuits and walked to the beach. It was just past 2pm and almost 100 degrees. Squinting against the sun, it looked like we had the whole stretch of beach to ourselves, except for one old man whose testicle dangled free from his suit like a leathery keychain.

The water was — as we’ve since seen on TV news summer — hot like soup. Not unpleasant, but worrysome for whatever marine life was trying to survive in it. We surrendered our bodies and minds to the hot salty waves and slowly floated away from each other.

Because I have an overactive imagination, I had to look up every few minutes and make sure there were a) no sharks and b) Lil hadn’t been carried away to the Bahamas by the Gulf Stream current. I saw ten brown toes with nailpolish poking up from the surface and knew she was just fine.

I closed my eyes again and inhaled deeply, through my ribs and past my belly, down past my knees. I held that breath for a beat and slowly let it flow out of me, carrying out all the tension the last eighteen months had tangled up inside me. As the end of the long exhale left my lips, that’s when I heard the soft voice.

I’m still not sure if it was my own or someone else’s… just that it was both soothing and loud between my ears as it said:

SOFT VOICE: I’m home.

To which another voice in my head — this one definitely mine — replied:

MY VOICE: Oh fuck.

And to punctuate that, my brain secreted out a chemical that wracked my entire body with a flush of horror and shame and panic. Because Florida.



I’ve moved — a lot — throughout my life. This pattern started when I was a boy: my parents left behind both sides of our extended family when we moved from suburban Detroit to South Florida. There, we basically changed houses and even school systems every few years. After I’d moved out onto my own, even up to now, that moving cadence never really chilled: new cities, neighborhoods, states, hemispheres.

As a kid, I often wondered what it would feel like to grow up in one place like friends of mine did: living in the same house, having the same friends from kindergarten to college. Any time I confessed this to them, they’d tell me how backwards I had it, how much greener the grass on my side was to them, how bored and stifled they’d always felt. But they had consistency and community. They held space in their worlds, while I always felt like a visitor just passing through for a time, just a hazy ghost in old photos who was part of someone else’s life for a year or two. And it was a lot of work, starting from scratch. I always had to work twice as hard to cultivate social connections from untilled soil.

Moving often (and later travel) organically gave my social life a more widely-distributed structure, which got way better when the internet came into the picture. I’m fortunate this way: thanks to my writing and comics, I have friends almost any place I go in the world, which is beyond lovely.

It’s also getting exhausting, as I’m tiring of schlepping my belongings everywhere, especially these last few years. I’m now living in my fourth US city since COVID hit, and at this rate they’ve all melted together into a blob of temporary rental apartments, mediocre restaurants and friends who lament that we barely hung out when I tell them I’m picking up stakes again. And like clockwork, that melty blob stomps its pseudopod around the nine-month mark and rattles the bars of its cage, crying out for a change of scenery, for new adventures, for that sense of belong somewhere.

But beneath that (or because of it): there’s a rootlessness. An insistent feeling of neti neti (from the Vedic meditation “not this, not this”) radiating from every place I’ve lived long enough to look around and ask myself “Where is home? Where was home? What am I even doing here?” and know that will never be any kind of answer.


Even now, the neti neti is inevitably creeping in again. Just before this trip to Florida, I was staring out our overpriced windows at gray skies over Crumbling American City Number Four and wondering “Where is home?” And then I hit the ocean and—

That soft voice whispered “I’m home” and—

I panicked. At the very thought.

Because Oh Lord not this place. Not Florida.

But of course Florida.

I’ve spent a chunk of my life down there, from childhood through college plus some tropical hiccups and a global pandemic. And as we travel the one-way roads through time that are our lives, we scoop up all our experiences and add them to who and what are becoming: the sum of all we’ve touched, tasted, felt, hated and loved.

So, of course Florida.

The “Oh fuck” part though… I’m still unpacking. Running away from a place can’t ever stop it from being the place you grew up. You can’t rewind that time, but you can accept it in the Now, with all the punch-drunk gap-toothed grace you can muster for not spitting you out even worse than it did.

I spent the week by the sea doing just that: being grateful for being in (and from) Florida.

The rest of our trip turned out really nice, a proper long-overdue vacation even: I read books, swam in the ocean every day, visited with family and old friends, and did not think about all the work waiting for me back “home”… wherever that even was.

The Wanderings Continue (Finally)

I’m finally returning to Japan for a couple weeks and probably will be too busy post until I’m back in the USA again. Sooooo if you wanna holler, I’m in your pocket.

じゃまたね 💚,