The Big 150: 4, Life - Write about the place you call home.
Ah, “home.” I can’t pick just one place, so I won’t. And as this is my Big 150, I will do whatever I dang well please. So there!
Tabernacle, NJ. The home of my childhood. A small farm town that has grown slowly but consistently over the years, there are many maps still in existence that do not feature my little corner of the world. Although it is small, it is also lovely. I can breathe when I’m back in Tabernacle - when I make the trek back east for holidays and special occasions. I can take nature walks through the woods of the Pine Barrens (the largest remaining example of the Atlantic coastal pine barrens ecosystem FYI, stretching across 7 New Jersey counties), run miles of laps at Pricketts Mill Field, pick up one of the greatest Italian hoagies of all time from Waller’s Deli, or browse Russo’s Farm Market for local goods. I can pop over to Medford Lakes and grab a latte from Lakes Coffee and visit my best friend from childhood and her beautiful baby boy. When I’m in Tabernacle, I’m a quick car ride to Philadelphia or to the Jersey Shore and within striking distance of some of my closest and deepest friendships. New Jersey can get a bad rep sometimes, but Southern New Jersey can also take your breath away. Anyone who doesn’t understand why it’s called “The Garden State” should visit Tabernacle and the surrounding farmlands.
Dublin, Ireland. The home of my heart. I’ve written a bit already about wanting to live out my days in Cork, but I’ve never actually lived in Cork (though I hopped on the train to Cork many a times while living in Dublin). I lived in Rathmines, and there is so much there that I miss. Dublin is still the one place that feels entirely mine. Moving to Ireland to get my Masters in Theatre wasn’t the same as going to boarding school or to college. Boarding school and college felt like shared experiences with systems in place to help you acclimate, but Dublin was where I lived alone without roommates, friends, or family. I made wonderful friends in Dublin, I went on beautiful hikes through the Irish countryside, I fell in love, and I spent time really getting to know myself. I yearn for Hanley’s Cornish Pasties, soups at Cornucopia, pints at The Long Hall, brown bread ice cream, and the raspberry scones and mocha lattes from Orange Tree Bakery, but lucky me, I have some incredible friends who live there who always welcome me back with open arms, warm Irish hugs, and hours of wonderful conversation (and pints and coffee).
Los Angeles, CA. My present home. It’s where I live, it’s where I work, and it’s where I hang my hat. LA is obviously a much bigger city than both Tabernacle and Dublin (put together). It’s hustling and bustling with millions of people I will never meet, and it can be daunting at times to try to carve out a place or a life here. But I have good friends here and this little neighborhood I’m in is wonderful. My neighbors are all pretty great and have become like friends, and we have a local coffee shop I send everyone to if they’re in this neck of the woods (shoutout to 1802 Roasters). And it is true - the weather is hard to beat, and I’m striking distance to both the beach and the mountains, which makes outdoor activities like hiking, paddle-boarding, and kayaking more accessible. There’s always something to do, which is a pretty appealing quality in a city.
The more places I’ve lived the more I’ve realized how important it is to just find ways to make a place feel like home. Every place I’ve written about in this post had a few key things in common: access to nature in various forms, a local coffee shop, and cherished friendships.
So what’s the lesson for today? I guess maybe it’s “home is what you make it.” You can make any place feel like home if you figure out a few key things that are important to you. For me, it appears that having a local coffee shop is a very big deal.
To nature walks and deep friendship talks,
ICYMI: The Big 150