November 9, 2012

the right kind of home

Today I am going to San Antonio. Today I also realized it's been a couple of weeks since I wrote anything. In light of those two realities, I was brought back to this post I wrote the last time I went to San Antonio, and now I am reposting it because it rings true even still. In so many ways. So here you go.

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 lazy or we're settling or 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 I know my house will smell like pumpkin for almost the entirety of Autumn. I like the ease and comfort of sitting over coffee with someone who knows me, and who I know back. And I like it that when I step off the plane in San Antonio and feel the nasty humidity blow through the jetway, it sends me right back to the years I spent here. I take a deep breath of wet air and I am walking home from the Kappa house on a Friday night. I am heading to the Murch study lounge to write a paper on the role of the femme fatale in Hitchcock films (best paper ever) and laugh with my friends all night long. I am walking to Marble Slab on the Riverwalk with a bunch of high school kids. I am at the Taco C drive through with The Power Six at midnight, drinking Bella Sera in a papasan couch, cheering for the Spurs, and getting thrown into the Trinity fountain on my birthday.

Let me be clear: I genuinely 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 do in Zumba class. 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 over time, when a person became familiar, they were rated as more attractive than they were initially, when they were unfamiliar. Their appearance hadn't necessarily changed, but [psychologically speaking] knowing their face made the subject perceive them as better looking, somehow. I remember thinking that's kind of beautiful. Knowing a person makes them more attractive to us. Intimacy breeds desirability. Familiarity has an effect on us.

I don't think it's a trick our brains are playing on us. I think it's not that we're settling or getting too comfortable or being lazy. I think it's because we were designed for knowing and being known, so the connection between knowing and liking is in our wiring. I think it's because familiarity makes us feel at 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.

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