I get this particular feeling every time I come back to Seattle, where I’m from, but I can’t tell if it’s relaxation or exhaustion. I get home and just feel weighed down—my energy level drops, which makes me feel anchored and calm, but also lethargic. Either way, it can be a nice change.

This time, though, I think what I was feeling was drained. I spent last week helping my mom move out of the house I lived in all through high school, and into her boyfriend’s house. If you haven’t done it—and congratulations—moving is the all-time most exhausting activity in the entire world. It’s both physically and mentally draining to go through every single object you’ve accumulated over the past six years and rank its value in your current and future life. I let go of a lot of stuff. Attachment takes energy, which I had very little of.

The combination of my coming home after my first full summer being busy and independent in California, and the unavoidable sentimentality that comes with moving, made us all kind of wishy-washy. My mom confessed in the car that over the last couple of weeks she’s felt really emotional for no explainable cause—at any point, she could start tearing up. I just replied, “Yeah…,” but inside I was like, “Um, welcome to my life.” Walking to my dentist appointment last week, I cried because I saw the mountain. When my dog greeted me with licks on my birthday, I cried. When I looked at my childhood photo albums while sifting through storage, I cried. I’m always most homesick when I’m actually home.

Another feeling I get whenever I come back to Seattle is this conflicted sense of belonging. I am me because of where I’m from. I feel understood here—or maybe I understand here. At the same time, there are a handful of other places I have fierce affection for, places that complete me in some way. Unfortunately there is no way to take a map and cut out my favorite parts with an X-ACTO and glue them closer together in a dreamland conglomeration. And unless I become a rich betch who uses “summer” as a verb, I won’t ever be able to have EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME. Seattle is not the perfect place for me, but it is a crucial part of the puzzle of what I want out of life.

I guess that there is no one place for me. There are places, and there is me, but no city is my soul mate. I get along with different places for different reasons. Sometimes I get frustrated because I love too much of the world; or because it feels like if I were just one type of person with one type of life, there would be a single perfect town for me and I wouldn’t feel this conflicted all the time.

I’ve just spent so much time, especially here, in front of you, fretting over where I belong and what’s right for me and what place fulfills everything I need a place to do for me. But maybe that’s not the way to look at it anymore.

As I get older (gag), my perception of time changes, and life feels way less rushed. EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME might be my mantra, but it doesn’t need to be. There’s no need to cram everything I love into one period of my life. I have a lifetime and a lot of ideas: I’ll be able to get around to everything.

That means for now, Seattle is home. Other places are other things. I’ll live in all of them eventually, and hopefully before I croak I’ll feel fulfilled. Or maybe I should stop looking at places for fulfillment and figure out how to feel that at home on my own, wherever I am. ♦