How I Became a Man Without a Home

How I Became a Man Without a Home

When I left my home three years ago, I knew things would change in my absence. I just hadn’t anticipated it would happen like this.

I’ve been traveling the world, on my own, for quite a good chunk of time. It’s been a life-changing journey, one filled with eye-openers and jaw-droppers, open hearts, expanding minds, love, truth, drama and despair.

I’ve always considered myself to be lucky that there has only been one major issue at home since I’ve been gone. About a year ago, my sister had to undergo some major, emergency surgery. Being in a very tight financial situation, I reached out to my friends and neighbors, who helped me to raise more than $2,000 to fly home to be by her side as she went through one of the most traumatic experiences of her life.


When I went home for that brief stint, though, I found that everything was almost exactly as I had left it years before. Friends had gotten older and generally just moved on with their life, but, that bit aside, nothing had really changed.

This is quite a common experience for many long-term travelers. I’ve heard from people, the world over, that after returning home, they found things exactly as they were before they left. And, up until now, that’s been the very case for me.

Last month, the Boston home that I grew up in went on the market. It sold within a week and, five days from today, my mother will be moving the last 30 years of her life to North Carolina. With those 30 years, though, she’s taking the first 27 of mine.

I grew up in that house and, even though I’ve been traveling as a nomad for the past few years,  I have always considered it to be my home.

Though I technically moved out at the age of 14, I would often return for months at a time, spending every summer with my family. That house has always been the place I return to, my source of comfort and familiarity, the place I could count on in a bizarre world of uncertainty.

I have always loved Boston. It’s my home, my city. But now, without a permanent residence there, what becomes of my beloved Boston?

When I return to the states, likely at the end of this year, I won’t be going home to Boston. I’ll be flying to North Carolina to a house I’ve never even seen before. How, then, can I ever see my friends, and my city, under normal circumstances? Sure, I can take a cheap flight to Boston, rent a car and crash on couches, but this is not what it means to return home.

Frankly, this sounds a lot like traveling.

My home has been scooped out from under me. The familiarity that I knew was waiting for me on the other side of the world has disappeared.

But, am I to be considered a man with no home or rather a global citizen, being a person who makes the whole world my home? For years, even though I’ve been nomadic, I always had a place to call “home.” Now, I must redefine my definition of that word.

What do you think makes a home, anyway? Does everybody have one somewhere in the world, or is one’s home wherever they make it?

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  1. My mom recently suggested sell/throw away/donate the stuff I left at “home” (I’m an expat in Paris) and it made fell so bad and that’s not as big as what’s happening to you. I just can’t imagine it! But all the things you’re seeing in your travels make it worthy at the end, I think. I’m sorry, this is not a helpful comment, I just empathize with you.

  2. The dreaded question for me is always “where are you from?” My parents still live in my childhood home, but I’ve only visited a handful of times over the last 15 years. It doesn’t feel like home. And I only lived a short while in other places in the US before moving to Italy. I guess Phoenix feels the most like “home” because that is still where my job and most friends are.

  3. I never cease to be amazed at how attached adults are to their childhood homes, though to be fair, I was too- though admittedly I was far less aware of it until it was sold. With that said, much of my family remained in the area and thus the situation differed from yours though I can still relate to your sense of rootlessness in regard to Boston and wish you all the best in finding new territories to call home.

  4. Sorry to hear about your sister. Still, I a happy you mange to be there for her. As for your home, you cannot always stop things from changing…

    1. You’re absolutely right, Laura. And change is good–I truly believe that. But the one constant that I thought I had no longer exists. It’s hard to grapple with understanding that!

  5. Totally agree. No matter how long I’ve left home, I always know there is a house waiting for me that welcomes me at all time.

  6. sometimes i take the place i call home for granted and always planning on how to get away from it.. but at least you’ve traveled to many places and not many people who have homes have the chance to do that.. for us travelers though, home is always in the heart.

    1. That’s a good point, Grasya. I know that I’m lucky. Perhaps this was just a sacrifice that I had to make, in exchange for all my incredible experiences abroad!

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