Yea…I still haven’t written about London or Portugal but lay off me I’ve got mountains to hike, sunsets to see and bars to visit, tough life. I’ll get to it but first I want to talk about home. Buckle in, Nick is about to dump a bunch of emotional garbage on you.

Home. I’ve never really had one. Well…that’s probably a bit too dramatic Nick lets dial that back – I’ve had a home for 18+ years of my life, but not in the “traditional” way. See my mother and I weren’t exactly what you’d call rich, I’d say an apt description of us would be lower middle class, probably moving down the socio-economic ladder to flat out poor as I grew older. My mother never let me know it though – to her detriment probably I had new clothes, video games and sports equipment (like an asshole I had to play the most expensive sport in ice hockey), I hate myself for putting that stress on her, but she loved it. She always made sure I had the life she wanted. But anyway this isn’t a post about our dire financial straits, but I guess its related – all this to say we didn’t really have our own home.

See we lived with my grandparents in a house they owned since it was built and heroically raised 10 children in…with one bathroom…I still can’t fathom that. Well the tree outback grew to Guinness Book levels of size due to all the boys making it the “second bathroom” (PS – I kept up that tradition quite prodigiously). But anyway I grew up in that house, I became who I am in that house, but weirdly I never felt like it was my home. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or anything but it just wasn’t “ours” – we shared it with not only my grandparents but my aunts, uncles and cousins. That made it a really cool place for me as I got to grow up alongside everyone in my family, especially in the summer months when the Nana and Papa Day Care Center would open for business and my cousins would drop in where we’d play with Legos and Playmobile, watched TGIF shows, played make believe we were Rin-Tin-Tin (my cousin Jimmy always made me play Lou Adams, I’m a 4 foot nothing white kid trying to be a 6 foot+ black guy, no idea why I’m bringing that up but always thought that was funny… I still have that stuffed animal of his K-9 Butch somewhere #RIPLouAdams… I think you’re dead?) or go “camping” in the backyard where we’d get scared in our tent like 20 minutes in and come running home to Nana. On the one hand I’m wildly lucky that I grew up with basically dozens of brothers and sisters but I never felt….home. Like I said, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, quite the opposite I’m forever indebted to Nana and Papa for giving me the security of a house, the warmth of family and an abundance of knowledge they imparted to me (for example on countless nights I’d sneak down past my mom and stay up with Nana to watch the Discovery channel or Golden Girls and talk about life, nature, religion, you name it until we both would fall asleep on the couch…also she’d give me cake without my mom knowing…sorry mom)

My mom and I moved out once on our own but it lasted a couple months. I loved that place, I don’t have many memories from growing up but I’ll always remember those saloon doors to my bedroom, my mom making dinner in that small kitchen and us watching Sunday night TV together. I felt like we were a family and we had a home, for a bit before circumstances brought us back to The Shoe (aka Nana and Papa’s house)

See its weird, I always knew I had a different “home” than my friends but it got to be crystallized as I got older. Friends from college would go home for the holidays to their home and their room and their family and its normal…its idyllic, they seemed comfortable when I’d visit. For me I always felt like I was visiting, a guest (I put that feeling all on me, but it’s the truth)). It was a house for the entire family, not just me and my mom, I didn’t have a room anymore, there were other needs in the family for that. I would just stop in and crash for a couple days before heading back to college. After college I didn’t really have a “home” to go to either, I went back to New Jersey for a couple months while I figured out my New York apartment situation than bolted to my own place. My grandparents have both since passed away and the house has now been sold…poof….I have no trace of anything resembling a home now. Nothing.

However, this isn’t meant to be a “poor me” post, its meant to be a happy post, see the other night I was casually talking with some remotes at our farewell party for Lisbon about my trip to New York and New Jersey the other week and I said without thought or provocation “….. it was an amazing trip but I’m glad to be home.” Home… it came out so naturally there. Its not the first time I felt that way – right around day 100 I started to think back on this crazy trip and the one thing I kept coming back to was ….home. Am I home?

It didn’t start that way, when I got to Prague I was scared OUT OF MY MIND, freaking out in an apartment with a guy with a sweet beard from Chicago, some Dutch DJ and a French-ish American (I love you Husinecka!) but those guys quickly became some of my closest friends. From Prague we traveled to Budapest, Belgrade, Croatia, London, Edinburgh and on our way to Lisbon….I didn’t even notice the moving, it felt normal, it felt natural, it felt comfortable, it felt like home – like I’m supposed to be here, wherever here is.

Which is crazy to say since I’m leaving for Morocco and I literally have no idea where I’ll be falling asleep tonight, but here I am on this trip with these people and this life feeling comfortable for the first time in a long time. People always ask me is it really worth $2,000 a month to do this? Can’t you do it cheaper? Of course I can. But the hidden-in-plain-sight value of this trip is the family I get to travel with, learn from and grow alongside…I haven’t really thank them for giving me a home when I had none but I promise I will. Thank you, you’ve helped to create a home for this weird ass, awkward orphan from who knows where anymore.

Damn, I’m sorry reading this post back I sound like such an insufferable douche so forgive me. That being said, I need to go, my flight is boarding. I'm off to Morocco, I’m going home.

PS - Later DZ, also Nick smile less