April 9, 2011

the right kind of home

New is exciting, and fun, and healthy, and necessary. Change can be good.

But I have to be honest, I like familiarity. And I think it gets a bad rap sometimes, like it's a lazy thing or it's about settling or we're getting "too familiar" - which means it's time for something else to take the place of said familiar. And in some instances, like I said, good. Great. It's not good to get bored or to settle or to be lazy. But sometimes I just like feeling familiar.

So I like it that I listen to The Cranberries Greatest Hits and instantly I'm transported to my senior year of high school and I'm in my '94 Ford Explorer and I'm late to softball practice. I like that the weird mural on the walls of the basement stairway of Wellspring makes me feel a surge of safety and community and welcome as soon as I turn the corner. I like that I know my house will smell like pumpkin for almost the entirety of autumn. And I like it that when I stepped off the plane last night in San Antonio and felt the nasty humidity blow through the jetway, it sent me right back to the years I spent here. I took a deep breath of wet air and I was walking home from the Kappa house on a Friday night. I was heading to the Murch study lounge to write a paper on the role of the femme fatale in Hitchcock films (best paper ever) and also laugh with my friends all night long. I was walking to Marble Slab on the Riverwalk with a bunch of high school kids. I was at the Taco C drive through with The Power Six at midnight, I was cheering for the Spurs [without fear of persecution, I might add], and I was getting thrown into the Trinity fountain on my birthday.

Let me be clear: I pretty much hate the weather here. I hate that I walked across the street this morning to get a cup of coffee and I got sweatier than I did in Zumba class on Wednesday night. I hate that when I'm here my hair becomes akin to a lion's mane the minute I step outside. This isn't one of those situations where I'm exaggerating for dramatic effect, either. Had I considered for even a moment the climate of San Antonio in my college choosing process, I probably never would have made it to Trinity University.

But I loved the four years I spent here. I love that wet air and lion hair and general sweatiness makes me feel, in a weird and sort of unpleasant way, like home.

I remember reading a study in my Social Psych class about familiarity and attractiveness. It showed [long story short] that when a person became familiar, they were rated as more attractive than they were initially, when they were unfamiliar. Their appearance hadn't changed, but [psychologically speaking] knowing their face made the subject perceive them as better looking, somehow. I remember thinking that that's kind of beautiful: that knowing a person makes them more attractive to us. Intimacy breeds desirability. Familiarity - for better or worse - has an effect on us.

I don't think it's a trick that our brains are playing on us. I think it's not about settling or getting too comfortable or being lazy. I think it's because we were designed for knowing and for being known, so the connection between knowing and liking is in our wiring. I think it's because familiarity makes us feel home. I didn't mean to love San Antonio, but San Antonio became home. I can't not love that.

New is exciting, and fun, and healthy, and necessary. Good.
But I think a case can be made that the right kind of home is all of those things too. And then some.

1 comment:

alixefloyd said...

Love you. And San Antonio.