I’ve spent the better part of my life in search of what it means to have a home. Like most folks, I grew up with my parents in the suburbs. I had seven other siblings and we were always on top of one another. Even though they were my family, I understood from an early age that that place wasn’t really where I belonged. And so, I left my parents’ while still young and traveled across the country, landing in New York City. I had just turned 19 and it seemed like a good fit. Who knew I’d end up living there for nearly fifteen years.
I moved around a lot. Trying to make a home in New York City goes something like this: Find an affordable apartment. Sign a lease. After a year, the rent goes up. After another year, it goes up again. Move out. Repeat. I must have moved well over ten times.
So as much as I liked living in New York City, it never really felt like home because I was never allowed to settle in, not like I have up here.This coming year will be my fourth anniversary upstate. Short as it may seem compared to my time in the city, my life up here truly feels like home. This feeling was validated a few months back.
I was driving along one of our bucolic roads, letting my mind wander, when all of a sudden I was struck by something so visceral that I started to cry. I realized that I was crying because I had fallen in love with this place. In that moment, I became fully aware of my surroundings and began to truly appreciate its beauty. I also began to appreciate the freedom granted to me by this region, which has allowed me to express my life in exactly the way I want.
That was it: Beauty and Freedom. It’s what I had been searching for my entire life in a home and I finally found it here. Being here—without all the financial constraints of the city, without all of its distractions—has helped me transcend all the background noise and fully appreciate what is right in front of me.
And that’s what this issue is about. It’s about people searching for beauty in their lives and for the freedom to express themselves in the homes they have built–whether it be an off-the-grid trailer, a rural villa filled with exquisite furnishings, or a simple cabin in the woods. Because home is where the heart is, and each one of these personal refuges is a tribute to love.