To most people, home is a warm bed, a house on the hill, shade under a favorite tree, or a familiar street. To me, home is all of these and more. Most importantly, however, my home exists in my heart, no matter where I am. My home is more than a specific location; it is a set of ideals that influences the way I live.
In winter, my home is a house in the rural town of West Point, the foothills of the grand Sierras. But growing up, summertime meant home was the whole of California: the roads leading to every fairground and festival site in the state. This is where my life began. Not in the hospital where I was born or the small town where I went to school; for though my house rested on the dirt and pine needles of West Point, I grew up on the sun-baked asphalt of the fairgrounds.
As a young girl I had plenty of curiosity and creativity to spare. These qualities thrived at the fairs. As my parents and I moved from one venue to the next, the variety of people and constant change of surroundings thrilled me. I met so many different people during those years: fairgoers, performers, exhibitors, and concessionaires. People of all ages, backgrounds, races, and cultures went to the fairs. Many of these people traveled extensively throughout the state, the country, and the world. For instance, Tom (aka. “The Giant”), the airbrush artist spent winters painting for car shows in Japan. Jimmy, the “Corn Dog King” wintered in Florida before retiring to a remote lake in Canada. Dwayne, the ear-piercer/lawyer had studied all over the world, learning medicine in Croatia and gemology inThailand, while vacationing in Argentina and Cuba. I listened avidly to these people’s stories, which sparked my curiosity and made me eager to learn more. As my parents and I moved from one fair to the next, I looked forward to meeting new people and hearing new stories.
As I explored the world through others’ words, I also began to explore my own ingenuity. I was five years old when I started my first business. I set my young entrepreneurial spirit and creativity to work, setting up a milk crate and a cardboard box next to my parent’s stand. With twist-ties, Styrofoam cups, and a pen I created animals, rings, and decorations that I sold to anyone who gave me a second glance. I greeted people’s surprise with a smile and asked everyone who passed if they would like to buy something. They could not say no. The success of this business helped make me the confident, forward thinking person I am today.
The environment on the fairgrounds allowed my creativity and curiosity to flourish. The nomadic life of working fairs meant I was never tied to one particular place. I was at home wherever I could explore, learn, and engage in the world around me. I knew life had no limits. As I grew, my curiosity about other people and places evolved into an insatiable desire to travel. I realized that as long as I could exercise my creativity and curiosity, as long as I could learn and stretch the parameters of my understanding, I would be home.
For me, home is not a certain place, but rather a state of being, doing, and learning. As a child I roamed the fairgrounds: young, impressionable, and willing to learn; now I aspire to wander the world: still young, still impressionable, and yearning to discover more places to call my home.