"who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes" - Allen Ginsberg, HowlI came home for Thanksgiving break. Home. Funny how I can now say that word, and know what it means. It's a bizarre feeling, really, to have a hometown. To miss one place more than any other, to look over the city and know it's where I belong. To rediscover it each time I return, but each time to feel like it's the place I left my heart. Denver is my city, my home.
I walked the streets each day, smiling. I wandered down sidewalks, through bookstores and coffee shops, looking up and West to remind me I'm just where I belong. On Thanksgiving, the streets were deserted, and I could stand in the middle of roads. I met a kind homeless man, spoke to him about Autumn and life. I visited a community space with Denver's Zine Library. I visited a radical pizza shop, and I had a sandwich at Paris on the Platte. The Platte passed beneath me, caught my tears like a lover, and reminded me that I'm alive. I spoke of philosophy and history at Stella's, cigarette smoke like a cloud on my lips, and I never wanted to leave.
Still, I couldn't live in Denver today. I love the streets, the coffee shops, the people, the places, but the place where my parents live is not my home. In the months after I moved out, my bedroom was turned into a nursery, its red and black walls were repainted in baby green. It wasn't a huge loss: I'd only lived in this bedroom two years; but it was a big symbol. One day, I fell asleep in front of the TV. I woke up, went up stairs, opened my bedroom door - and remembered that I don't live there anymore. My mother laughed at me as I stumbled downstairs into the guest bedroom.
DC is an interesting place. There really isn't anyone from DC. You meet people that are from San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Pullman, New York City, London, Tokyo; you don't meet many who are from DC. Everyone here is in passing, coming through for a few years, then leaving. Oh, and there are those who call DC home. Young folk who find life and hope in the city. In the end, they, too, move along. I watch autumn fall over DC, the trees turn red, then brown, then fall. The sun turned to rain and clouds. I know DC as a local. I know it well as I wander the streets each weekend, my heart beats quicker because I know I love it, but I can't call it "home". Not in the same way I call Denver home, and not in the same way I call Khabarovsk, Pullman, Chicagoland, Palo Alto, and Boulder home. Everything's in passing.
I hope Chicagoland can be my home. I'm afraid because I'll be living fairly far from the city, and because the ChiTown just isn't the friendliest place to live. But I know there are so many amazing people there, I know the culture and the places are phenomenal, and I believe I'll find my place there.
But, when someone asks me where I am from, I can now confidently answer: