Home; we use this word a lot. For all of its vague specificity, home is rarely a place to which we can assign absolute physicality. Home is my apartment, with cozy couches and tall windows in the living room that let in beautiful light in the early hours of the day. Home is the town I grew up in, but it’s also the city where my parents now live, a place that in turn is home because I spent six years there during and after college. Home is my face nestled into the shoulder of my closest friend and home is an apple orchard on fire with the colors of autumn and home is a booth at your favorite bar on a rainy Friday night. When I am traveling back to New England I’m traveling home, and when I’m ready to come back, I’m returning home. Sometimes we feel like we’re at home and other days like we have no home. It is a fickle thing, the notion of home.
We were standing street-side this evening awaiting a cab, the muted hustle of downtown Oakland blowing about us. A bus stopped kitty-corner to us and dispensed humans at the curb, accelerating north up Broadway with a roar. Further south toward Jack London Square the Amtrak was rolling through, clack clack clack on its journey west.
We’re all quietly longing for the lives we know we should live but are too afraid to begin.
Last month, Joe Gebbia, one of our co-founders at Airbnb, gave a talk at TED2016. The lecture, “How Airbnb designs for trust”, focuses on the earliest days of the company and the question of why and how the hosts and guests of the platform would trust each other. As Joe makes a point of, the premise was initially hard to get behind:
He ran into the room panting and I could tell right off he wasn’t happy. I was lying on the bed with my laptop propped against my knees and there was a stain on my sweatshirt from eating ice cream earlier when I dislodged a mound of cookie dough and it slid from the spoon like a clumsy ice skater, landing near but not quite inside the pocket of my hoody. I used the spoon and my fingers to pick it back up and there was only one or two pieces of fuzz stuck to the outside so I ate it. He’d scowled, and even then I could tell he was in a foul mood, so it wasn’t entirely a surprise when he came in with a huff, eyes tucked up under his brows and his hands awkwardly held at his sides. He paced once, twice, again, and then looked right into my face and I could almost feel the prick of daggers coming out of his eyes.