Saturday morning at 9:00am my doorbell rang and I groaned and rolled over, ignoring it. I had just helped a friend move the day before and I feel like I moved enough boxes to last me a life time. I ignored the first doorbell ringing and pretended to be dead because in my opinion, no one should have to do anything before 9am on a Saturday. The doorbell rang again at 12pm and I was a little more accepting of this and ended up in the back seat of a car with 5 people in it headed to Tampa. If you’ve ever been to Ybor City, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that I now have a giant bruise on my left knee and lost an entire fingernail dancing. Despite this, I had never felt more at home than I felt on the journey home stuck between two friends and retelling stories of the night before. My favorite part of the entire trip was being able to have the aux cord for four minutes and playing Devotchka’s ‘‘How it Ends’’ while I stuck my head out of the window on the way to a casino and no one talked the entire way, we all just listened.

On my way to go get my nail fixed the following night, I contemplated whether I should walk or ride my bicycle. The decision was solely based off of what I was wearing. I decided to walk because the dress that I wore already had tire marks forever engrained in it due to riding my bicycle in it before. Before leaving my house, I took $15 out of my tip jar I leave on my kitchen counter. I did this because I knew on my way there I would happen upon multiple homeless people…and honestly I never carry cash on me so I wanted to this time for that reason alone. It did not go to waste and as I took my time on my walk, I had some great conversations along the way.

On the walk to the nail salon I said hello to every person I passed. I felt high off of my neighborhood and all of the familiar faces I passed on the way there. I had passed a friend in a vehicle who excitedly knocked on his window to get my attention while walking past and it felt so good to have someone excited to see me through a window. A friend.

I walked in to the nail salon I have been going to for four years now and was met with Judy’s judgement when she learned I had somehow yet again ripped off a freshly manicured nail. She grumbled something about how I am the clumsiest customer she has before she got to work on fixing it. She sat a glass of white wine in front of me without asking and said ‘‘You’re going to need this.’’

I realized over the weekend and on this night that this is what home feels like; being surrounded by a community of people that know you and love you.

I can’t imagine my life any other way.

I used to think I wanted to be as far away from Jacksonville as humanly possible. I was in a relationship where talk of moving was incessantly being had. New York City, DC, North Carolina, the mountains in Georgia. There was just no way the person I was having these conversations with could ever understand what Jacksonville meant to me but I had the conversations anyways because I was under the impression that home could be anywhere as long as it’s with the right person. But there was always this small part of me that hated these conversations because of the home I had spent years building for myself. I dreaded the thought of giving that up to spend life with someone who couldn’t have been happy with me just anywhere.

I went through a custody battle in the midst of these talks and remember feeling relieved in a way that one of the rulings was that I would have to stay in Jacksonville until my tiny human turns 18, but I immediately knew how the relationship would end, even before it did. Three months later it ended and he is now in New York City living the life he wanted to the entire time we were together; the life I had held him back from. I realize now that if I had went with him, it still wouldn’t have been what I needed because he never could be, and truthfully you just cannot make a home out of a person.

I am happy to be where I am. To be home. To have friends that I love who love me in return.

And it feels so good to be home.