• Rebbekah Vega-Romero


Hi. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I’m Ruby Reb of Ruby's Realm Tarot, and among many other things, I am a Native New Yorker. If this were a conversation and not text on the internet, you’d say, “oh wow! A city girl? Where did you grow up?” Oh so innocently, not knowing that my palms have starting sweating and my stomach has clenched. Then I would make a joke about how lucky I am, I got to live in every borough before college - well, except Staten Island but we all know that doesn’t count. (Trust me, that one kills on dating apps.)

(Lil Ruby Reb and her littler sister, playing in the concrete jungle of the 1990s)

Yes, I moved 12 times before I left for college, so just like with religion or ethnicity, I can’t give you an easy answer about where my home is. Right now, the apartment I live in is on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, about 30 blocks north of where I went to high school. I didn’t grow up within these four walls, but there are touchstones from my childhood that my mother has left behind. It’s disorienting to see the Campbell’s mug we used to drink sick day soup from every morning when I go to make my coffee. I can’t call this space that isn’t fully mine home, though I sleep and eat and cry and dream here.

When I was 11, the worst move happened. My little sister and I went away to summer camp for the first time. Our parents had been on the verge of splitting up for what seemed like forever, and we had just moved into a tiny apartment after being in the same townhouse for what would turn out to be the longest stretch of our lives. We didn’t like the apartment very much, but at least we had settled in. I remember being terribly homesick for the sounds of Brooklyn that summer. When we finally came back from the wilds of Pennsylvania, our mother drove us the wrong way after we got over the Manhattan Bridge. “Mom, where are we going?” I asked, and she replied “Home.” And drove us to an entirely different apartment than the one we had left.

When I asked her recently why she had moved us in such dizzying fashion, she told me exactly what she had always told us when we were children. “I am your home, and you are mine.”

I am sharing all of this, what I consider to be the messy and shameful truth of my childhood, not to garner sympathy, but to reach out a hand. It seems like a lot of us are struggling with the concept of home right now, whether because you have had to move back to the place you grew up or you are living through a global pandemic in a foreign country, or you are spending more time at home than ever before.

The thing is, I don’t think my mom was right. To ask someone else to be your home is to put too much weight on any one relationship. I thought I was going to write about how the city is my home and she’s not dead but that’s not true either. I am starting to believe that the real home is the one we make inside ourselves. So this is an invitation to you to take time to dig a little space inside yourself. To sit and look in the mirror and plant some seeds of love there. Water these seeds with meditation, with journaling, with dancing alone in your room. Let the love inside you grow into every nook and cranny, like an internal trellis of roses - a garden you can carry with you and nourish no matter where you find yourself planted. No matter where you are, you can always place a hand on your heart and another on your belly, and come home to your own damn self.



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