The question of home ...
... and the answer.
I write to you from New York, a city that has meant different things to me, at different times and different iterations of self. New York is where memories of my past are tied to the rattle of subway trains, the swish of street sweepers, Mike’s whistling as water boiled on the stove in the early morning, our daughter’s cries in the middle of the night. These are reminders of the life we had and have, though “we” has had different meanings. “Life” means something else entirely. “Home” has a whole new definition.
New York is where Mike and I learned to live with the noise outside and in, acknowledge our insecurities, nurture our talents and adapt to the unexpected. After he died — in Phoenix, where the three of us moved to when our daughter was a toddler so I could cover the region for The New York Times — New York became a painful reminder of what could have been, a place that signified something lost.
The question of home had haunted me since Mike’s death. Where is home? What is it? How do I build one that is genuinely my daughter’s and mine?
The answer materialized itself when I embraced change.
If our perception of people can change, so can our opinion of a place. With my daughter by my side, I see New York as a city of possibilities. Here, we see a future where being who we are and finding community as who we are is more than within reach. It’s what it’s meant to be.
It was only fitting that I finished the first draft of my memoir just as we left Phoenix and sent it to four readers. I know it needs a lot of work still, and I have a good sense of the work it needs, but the feedback is crucial at this point. It’s time to get others to help guide me in a project that has been lonely and painful and sad and utterly rewarding because this is my story and I’m telling it as I experienced it and as I believe it should be told.
Finding home doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, what we’re looking for isn’t a different setting for our story. It’s to go back to someplace we love, but to return to it stronger than when we left it.
“The most decisive way to diversify journalism and expand its relevance and reach is to make space for, give voice to and empower the new American majority. That’s exactly what Futuro has so expertly done over the years, and I’m hugely honored and excited to join the team.”
I start on August 15.
Julio Ricardo Varela @julito77BIG NEWS from @futuromedia!!!!! Welcome to @ByFernandaS and @penileyramirez! Plus @Maria_Hinojosa has some new news and so do I. AND congrats to Yolanda Moore and @StacyLeMelle! READ IT ALL HERE! https://t.co/YLJVjV5BcH
I’ll also retain my affiliation to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where I have been a professor of practice since 2017. I’ll spend the fall semester developing an online writing course for all Arizona State University students and training media and communications professionals through our new professional development program, CrokitePro. If you’re interested in hearing more about the program and its offerings, reach out to my colleague Sree Sreenivasan — and while you’re at it, subscribe to his Substack.
You may have noticed the audio version of this post at the top of this note. I hope you liked hearing me read my words.
Send me your comments, questions and welcome-home notes. If you’re subscriber, watch out for a Calendly link coming your way in September, where you’ll be allowed to reserve 15 minutes to talk to me. Also, subscribers will soon receive the last video on the Here’s One Thing About Writing series. And stay tuned for your next exclusive product, a conversation with artists and writers I admire about the ways they use their creativity and talents to handle everyday life.
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With love and purpose, always.