Home : What is Home? + A Tribute to Tom Wolfe – Hi Let’s Life – Medium

// what is home? //

This is not something you need to think about when you’ve lived in one place your whole life. But once you move away, saying the word “HOME” is like tapping the first domino in a long chain of emotional questions.

Emotional questions I’m faced with every time I sit in this damn wooden chair on the sidewalk, eating the most delicious açaí bowl in all the lands.

Let me explain.

I love waking up slowly on a weekend morning, throwing on some comfy clothes, walking into bright blue skies, and marveling at the gardens decorating the sunny sidewalks.

by Leora Katz

I don’t need to think about where I’m going because this ritual has been performed almost weekly since I moved to Los Angeles, one year ago. All I need to think about is whether today is a hot coffee or an iced coffee kinda day — which is an important decision.

I stroll over to the street with all the stores on it, and soon have my coffee in hand.

Ahhh, that first sip of coffee on a weekend morning in paradise…!

I continue past tiny shops and patio people, my fingers tightly crossed as I make my way to my final destination.

xx i hope no one’s sitting in my seat xx
xx i hope no one’s sitting in my seat xx

Such sweet relief when no one is.

Because despite all the bustling cafes along my path, my end game is just two, low wooden chairs outside a hole-in-the-wall juice shop that also sells colourful hats, homemade balls of sweetness, and cold cans of La Croix. (The latter harder to find than you might think.)

I plop down into my seat, and patiently await the arrival of an açaí bowl so good it would blow your goddamn mind…

But here’s the kicker: The other side of the street is a domino tapper. As I perform one of my favourite LA rituals, I’m face-to-face with my trigger word:


And it’s not subtle either. In massive metal letters surrounded by flashing bulbs, a large sign reads:

there’s no place like
 H O M E


“There’s no place like home” is not only massive and flashing, but it’s nestled between two humongous, leafy trees. The sort of trees I’d be gazing at even if they didn’t hold words because trees this grand demand my affection.

Home. Home. What is home?

The audacity continues, as “There’s no place like home” arches above a busy restaurant entranceway. One that gathers many loud and happy people. People with weekend brunch plans. People who woke up with a place to be and a time to be there, and here they are: hugging their friends and families, engaged in loving conversations. All these people… with their people.

The HOME domino has not just been “tapped.” It’s been pushed rather forcefully, hasn’t it? Massive letters, flashing bulbs, gorgeous trees, friendly gatherings, happy people. I’m being teased by the universe.

So I laugh… and do what it’s asking me to do. I contemplate:


And the long chain of emotional questions begins.

Is home where your friends and family are? Where you’re happiest? Where you happen to be right now?

Is home a place? A feeling? Is it wherever you were born?

Is home where you’ve spent the most years of your life? Where you met the majority of your friends? Or is it just… where your bed is?

by Leora Katz

What about politics? Does that factor in? Is home where you’ve never seen a gun store, where multiculturalism is just… the way life is, where the barista isn’t surprised when you say “please”?

… Or is it where your soul is free to breathe because you can walk outside in a t-shirt in November? Where you can count on blue skies and sunshine? Where exotic plants spill onto sidewalks, mountains paint the horizon, and the ocean is a drive away?

But relationships. Relationships matter most. Isn’t home where your beautiful community is? Where you walk into restaurants and parks and music venues and run into one of the hundreds of people you’ve met through schools and summer camps and siblings and jobs?

Isn’t home the place that’s filled with kind souls who you’ve known for decades, where so much can go unsaid? Where you you love deeply, and feel deeply loved? Where hugs are tight and genuine and last a few extra moments?

Sigh. But maybe home is where you rarely have obligations, where regular life feels like the vacations you used to crave for survival, where weekends last forever because all your time is yours…?

I sit in this wooden chair and my mind is spinning, and I can’t figure out the answer.

I don’t know what HOME is. How could I? These questions poke at my deepest values. And their answers are my future.

Says the massive sign with flashing lights.

Says the archway nestled between trees.

Says the word above the happy, hugging people.

I dunno, guys.

I’m just trying to eat an açaí bowl.

by Leora Katz


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