Coping, Mental Health

Trying to Find My New “Home”

Home is where I want to be when I have a migraine. Being nearly housebound since I moved to Boston in August, you’d think I’d be all set. Except that “home” is far more metaphorical than literal. In Seattle, my home was on the couch in front of the fire. Even if my apartment here had a fireplace, it wouldn’t be the same. Home is an emotional place, an emotional state. One that is found by feeling it. One I haven’t found since moving to Boston, not in my apartment or in the city.

Driving from the airport into Seattle the first time Hart and I visited, I knew I’d found my home. In fact, when I was 13 and first visited the Pacific Northwest, it felt like home even though I wasn’t aware of what that meant. Now I’m 3,000 miles away and I feel the distance acutely. I know Boston is a great city and there’s a ton to see and do in the Northeast. Enough friends of friends are here that I’m confident we can build a great social circle. The move isn’t intended to be permanent. All this logic doesn’t erase the ache for Seattle and the forests of the northwest.

Hart and I went back at Thanksgiving. The first morning, we went mushroom hunting. My heart sang as we drove through the city, seeing the water and evergreens. The ferns, the moss and the drizzle in the forest felt so good that I turned my face to the sky to soak it in. Then a severe migraine hit on the drive back to our friends’ place. The subsequent migraines were so bad that, except for a massage appointment, I didn’t leave their house until we went to the airport, 10 days after our intended departure. I have to wonder if not wanting to leave my beloved city was the primary migraine trigger.

Over the last month, the migraines have improved steadily. I even went to Hart’s work’s holiday party Tuesday night and had a great, low-pain time. I also met a lot of new people, all of whom were curious about Seattle. Talking about my city was soothing yet heartrending. The next day, I stumbled upon The Place I Love: Songs About Longing, written by someone from Portland who recently moved to New York. Listening to the songs she shared was another bittersweet comfort.

Seattle from Kerry ParkSeattle’s lakes and trees and cranes and Space Needle fill my soul. Even when I didn’t leave the house, the glimpses out the windows cheered me. I didn’t realize how much the city carried me as I struggled with an ever-worsening chronic illness. Moving to Boston was the right choice for Hart and me and I want to make it home while we’re here. But how do I find my place in a city that doesn’t nurture me?

11 thoughts on “Trying to Find My New “Home””

  1. Hi it is sad to hear about migraines. I have been a remedial massage therapist for a number of years. The clients with migraines have found relief and one has stopped having migraines all together after 1 year with just headaches.
    I would suggest you try reflexology and a massage therapist who really knows shoulders as much of the problem is in the shoulder in a spot where it is not sore but about 1/2 way down the shoulder blade near the spine. If you get a friend to push on this area and lift the shoulder blade a bit this is a great source of pain for many.
    But that is an experience i have had.
    the other thing i ask is when sitting to get a gold ball and roll the pads of your feet over the golf ball one foot at a time. Not to hard but roll around the area just below the little toe and also in the crease between the big toe and the toe next to it. Not forgetting the whole foot but dont forget what i have mentioned. Dont be to hard on the feet but firm over time it may help.
    There are 3 or 4 other things i do which will take to long to mention here which makes a difference
    Hope this is of interest

  2. I lived two years in Boston, and it never felt like home for me, either. I am a midwesterner at heart.

    Thanks for your headache blog, and for sharing such intimate details of your struggles. Community is helpful!

  3. It sounds like you just haven’t found your “home” in Boston yet. Part of it can be state of mind, adjusting to a new city, new friends, aquiantances, and finding the right fit for you.

    My family and I moved to Seattle when I was 13, and it took quite a long time for me to feel comfortable even though Seattle is a fantastic city.

    Boston is amazing in my opinion. You might have to visit faniel hall, or maybe a Bruins game? The fall can be beautiful, and there is no better sports city.

    Get out in the community and meet other transplants.

    Best of luck!

  4. Kerrie,
    So glad to see you writing again. You are still my most inspiring headache blogger. Please hang there. Hoping you will feel at home again soon.

  5. Hi there! I can totally relate to your pain(s). I’ve been an expat for 17 years. I am originally from Argentina, but I lived in Japan, USA, and now Israel. Talk about moving! I am also suffering from migraines since I was about 8, and I fond that stress is a big trigger for me, but also I have many others that I haven’t totally identified yet. I don’t know how long you have been in Boston, and I don’t know Boston either, but for me it took about a year or too to feel a place “home”. Now I have longings for different things in different places, and I am not sure anymore where “home” is. I haven’t been to Argentina in 10 years, and I am sure it’s not the Argentina I left behind. Anyway, your heart will lead you to your place. If you know the move is temporary and for the best (as you wrote) then, by all means make the best of it, and know that you’ll be back to Seattle in no time. Just don’t be too hard on yourself, and live it one day at a time: find a coffee place that you like, find the stores that you like, find little gems in the city to make your own. 🙂 Take care!!!

  6. Aaah Seattle…

    I’m an East Coaster, but my husband and I went to Seattle last year to celebrate our five-year anniversary and we loved it. We stayed at Hotel 1000 and took in the city a few days, then went to the ocean and mountains and stayed at a B&B west of Seattle. Heck, I miss it and I didn’t even live there!

    I’ve never been to Boston, but I can tell you that the East Coast is nice too. 🙂

  7. I’m happy to see somebody whose chronic migraines are improving. I’ve had chronic migraines for 15 years now (since I moved to Memphis). Before that, they occurred only once in a while. I’ve been forcing myself to continue working since I’m the sole breadwinner in my family, but it has not been easy lecturing or seeing patients while in the middle of a migraine. I’m lucky to have a very supportive wife who can keep me from falling apart.

    As for the Northwest, I’ve only been there once (Seattle), but I loved it. Boston is nice, but it’s not the west coast.

  8. I felt the same way when I lived in California for 10 years. I moved there when my oldest was 10 days old, I had only my husband’s family there and all of mine was in NH. We were young and pretty broke (he had been out of work for 4 months and we were playing catch up). I did make some really good friends out there but it took a while because when you have an infant it’s really hard to get out. Funny thing was when we moved back east after 10 years now I kind of miss it.

  9. I’m so glad you’re back, Kerrie. Your posts bring me so much encouragement in my own struggle with daily headaches and migraines. Blessings to you!

  10. My brother lived in Boston for several years while he was going to school, and he HATED that city. So, it might not be your fault. He lives in North Carolina now and he still talks about how much he likes it better than cramped, cold, expensive Boston.

    BTW, glad to see you blogging againg!

  11. So glad to hear things have been improving for you! I hope you can find things to love and draw energy from in Boston. Nothing can replace the northwest, but every place has something to offer.

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