Home is Where the Heart is
One of the reasons I wanted to live in New Orleans for several weeks rather than simply visit it for a week or so is that I don't think you can really know a place until you've experienced the actual rhythm of life there, including the things that might make you grumble. In New Orleans, in an apartment rather than a hotel room, on a residential street rather than in a tourist zone, I already feel at home.
These days, I think about what to cook for myself rather than where to go and eat. I clean my own dishes and bathroom, make my own bed, and if I want clean clothes, I go to a laundromat. I sometimes feel like connecting and sometimes don't, and I sometimes get bored, or sad, or tired, or too lethargic to go out. I walk familiar streets now, to cafes where I know I can get internet and good coffee. I waste too much time on Facebook and e-mail because I'm procrastinating on my job. Just like at home.
When we live somewhere, we have these times when there is no escape from real life, and when distractions don't seem to work, times when we feel productive and energetic and times when we feel lethargic and down. Our lives have schedules, but they're not as full of exciting, new things as they are when we're tourists. Here, I make plans to go far afield, to go to places the locals go. The museum, neighborhood eateries and bars, art galleries. I explore the place the way someone would who had just moved here. I look for places to feel comfortable, rather than distracted, places to visit again or places that teach me something. I make note of the trolley routes, the bus schedules. I recognize people on the streets, even if they don't yet recognize me. I consider helping the tourist couple looking at their map, but then realize that I don't actually live here, and might very well not be able to help them. After all, I'm still not entirely sure of the order of the streets here. I laugh at myself for becoming so quickly acclimated to this place. I think about never going back, but I know that that's an impossibility.
A new friend yesterday suggested that I split my time between here and my other home. That would, perhaps be the perfect solution, for how can we get bored with the routines of home if we have two homes? I asked him how I was supposed to do that, and he, a native of Alexandria, Egypt, who came here sight unseen ten years ago and worked his way up from dishwasher to owning his own store, just shrugged, smiled and took a drag of his hookah. I suppose that means there's always a way.