What is it that makes a place “home”?
For a long time, I thought home was defined by “where my things are”. The things I had collected or had had “forever”. My records. My books. My bed. My childhood room. My dog. And in a lot of ways this is a fine working definition. When you think of going “home for the holidays”, as an example, you think of being an adult sleeping on Star Wars sheets just like you did when you were seven. Home has history. Home doesn’t change.
When I started grad school at UGA and finally moved away from “home”, I was not a happy camper. I actually wanted to commute to Athens (almost 70 miles, which in Atlanta traffic terms is 1-3 hours each way). I think I started to see my place in Athens as “home” when I started (unofficially? I mean…we all knew…) living with a significant other. The place where there was someONE to come home TO; the place where meals were shared. That became my idea of home. Even after the retrospectively inevitable breakup, that place still had good chi. It was where I wanted to host all my friends (and did, with regularity); it was still where I wanted to go when I’d had enough department drama for one day.
Then I moved to North Carolina. I had my things about me and I had people over a few times–found an eating buddy so in the last year I rarely had dinner alone. But it was here I realized there’s more to a home than furniture or events. There’s also the overall location. I felt like I was always being observed and in a not-good way. Students lived across the street. My house was on a path that led into campus–at least 100 people walked by my bedroom window every day. I had colleagues as next door neighbors. And I felt like I was constantly being judged. Whenever I’d walk home from a friend’s house at night I’d wonder, “God, are people going to think we’re dating now?” Whenever I’d put a bottle of wine in the recycling bin I’d think, “Are people going to think I have a problem?” That’s when I realized that part of what makes home “home” is privacy. Not necessarily from your parents or siblings or roommates or spouses. But privacy from the world outside your home.
And now I’m in Chicago. I’ve been mostly “scared but excited”. At one point I semi-joked about commuting from Atlanta (though this time it was to save money–rent prices were a sticker shock). A friend from my Atlanta days offered to help me move up here. I have friends from Athens who live here now or are visiting soon. My North Carolina eating buddy is even going to come in the next month. And this is in addition to other really awesome people–current colleagues, former academians, old family friends–that I know in town. My past knows of my present and wants to remain in my future. This is good. But, my mother’s hospitalization the weekend before my move was a major shock to my family; as an only child I suddenly felt so terrible moving so far away. A large part of me wants to make Chicago my home; however, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that these last few days I have felt unbelievably guilty and almost ashamed at the selfishness in wanting this to be home.
Still, Chicago and I could get along quite nicely. We already have two major things in common: (1) we find it very hard to bullshit and (2) we love pizza. So I’ll just say this: make this pizza now. Don’t question the ingredient combo or any flavor clashing. Just do it. (Pics from making it in Atlanta, but it looks the same and tastes the same in any kitchen.)
- Pizza dough, flour for dusting and Pam
- Manchego cheese, shredded
- Bell pepper
- Green olives
- Cook the chorizo in a skillet (do NOT add anything else–even olive oil). When the chorizo juices are flowing, toss in the onion and bell pepper. Saute until soft.
- Roll out the dough and set the oven to 400*F.
- Layer as follows: sliced green olives, chorizo/pepper/onion mix, manchego.
- Bake until done–takes about 15-20 minutes.