Christina Zastrow

The Long Way Home

Home is not a place

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I’ve always felt rootless, grounded by responsibilities and debt, pulled to roam but held back by poor financial choices. There was little in Chicago that called out to me and told me I was home. At varying points in my life I’ve had many reasons to stay in Chicago – responsibilities, family, friends, job, fear of the unknown, personal comfort – but never a sense of belonging to a community, and that’s somethings that’s always been missing.

In Beijing, I still face down some of the same financial decisions, pipers that must be paid through lost opportunity, but the city calls to me. The vibrant community speaks to me in an unfamiliar tongue, and though I’m not a part of the community here, I can feel the throb of it inside me. I am drawn into knowing that I could be a part of the community here.

That is what I look over as I consider what home means to me. Is home as simple as a spot on a map? Only time can tell where I will eventually fall on that decision, but for now I have become convinced that though this city calls to me, it is perhaps not home.Perhaps home is much more complicated than a single place, it is, perhaps, a mess of connections that trail us wherever we go…

The woman who is unafraid to be a little unconventional and is teaching me that it’s okay to embrace who you are

The man who comforted me in a painful moment

The woman who thinks things through and shows me thought and care instead of pure instinct

The man who works hard to help me learn my own value when I can’t trust in myself anymore

The woman who sacrificed her own comfort to help me in a moment o f distress and helped me take a great leap forward

The man who broke my heart and left trailing behind ribbons of connections that eventually introduced me to the people who helped me learn I am

The woman who showed me caring families do exist when I thought they were a fantasy

The man who helped me first recognize a bad situation and who helped me feel like I wasn’t alone even though he was thousands of miles away

The woman who pulls me along and helps me explore and find my dreams

The long distance writer friends who encourage me to keep writing, to keep growing, and be my strongest best when I want to quit

The person in a foreign land who heard my soul cry out to create and sent me supplies to do so when I couldn’t afford them myself

The people who,all together, hold me together, help me find my strength, and helped me step out into the world to find myself and learn who I really am

…these are the connections that make home. Home, at least now, at least in this moment, is not a place, it is the people who matter to me and who build me up to be able to find what I want. Home isn’t about a dot on a map, but about the community, spread out around the world, of people who want me to be able to stand strong and be my best.

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Author: Christina Zastrow

Somewhere along my way through life, I managed to lose sight of myself. Then when my first long term relationship fell apart I found myself homeless, unemployed, and without family or support system. I decided it was time to find my way home, back to myself. This is my journey.

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