There are a lot of moments when walk through life feeling empty. And this nothing feeling is unpleasant, but familiar, so in the moments when I feel full, I’m exceptionally lucky.
This past weekend I headed over to Irvine, CA, which is where my parents lived when I was born. My mom taught at UC Irvine and we lived in University Hills. Surprisingly, my dad remembered our old address and I found the first house I ever lived in.
It was raining when I saw my old house, but I hopped out of my car anyway to take a few pictures. My dad tells me that there used to be a rope swing on the tree, which I played on as a baby.
I have a strange relationship with nostalgia. I wouldn’t normally call myself a nostalgic person, especially for things or places I can hardly remember, but there is something in feeling tied to a spot. It’s a feeling that I can’t describe in anyway other than full and rooted and grounded. It makes me feel settled to feel everything.
I got back in my car and drove until I got to a pool, which I was told I loved when I was a baby, and a meadow (pictured at top) where we used to take my parents’ first dog, Zona.
Finally, I drove onto UC Irvine’s campus in search of a statue of their mascot, the anteater. Maybe it’s because I grew up loving animals or because when I got to college I realized how weird college mascots are, but for some reason, the anteater has always been my favorite. I even had a UCI shirt when I was little.
I found both the statue and the cartoon mascot version (and took selfies with both, obviously), and then I got in my car and I sat there. I didn’t want to leave, but had no reason to stay. It’s not like I now had any ties to a place my family used to call “home.” Yet somewhere inside me, the feeling of belonging still sat. It’s the same feeling I get every time I return to Phoenix after a long while away or drive past the house-with-the-yellow-door that my family loved down the street from our current one. There is something I love about knowing I came from somewhere else, and letting my roots push me forward.