The concept of home has always been a little complicated for me. They say home is where the heart is and if that’s true, then my many moves have gifted me with many homes. I’ve had the privilege of living in so many great cities and when you move somewhere new, you’re forced to make a new empty space you have no ties to your home. What at first became a tedious task eventually became something I thoroughly enjoyed. Taking items I’ve collected along the way and using them to carefully curate a space that reflects my personal style, is warm and inviting, and is ultimately an expression of who I am and what I love.
Not too long ago I had been living in San Francisco for years, and eventually started getting that gnawing feeling I get when I’m in need of an adventure. This time it was stronger than ever, and this gut feeling turned into an intense pull that I couldn’t fight back. A few months later, I shipped off my life in 20 boxes to my childhood home in Florida and embarked on a nomadic journey that began with a one-way ticket to Hong Kong, a backpack, and a blank itinerary with no plan whatsoever. For six months I wandered around the globe, visiting 23 countries, making countless friends and memories, and satisfying that hunger to travel without the bounds of luggage or time. At the beginning, the concept of not having a home and swapping my flimsy hostel dorm mattress for a new one every few days was novel and exciting. What those Instagram travel bloggers don’t tell you is the toll long-term travel can take. By the end, I was torn between continuing this amazing journey or seeking out the comforts I had started to miss so much: my bed, my dog, a kitchen to cook a warm meal in, family. I eventually began my journey to what I realized was the only place, that no matter what city I was living in, would always be there for me — my childhood home in Florida.
One could imagine what living back at home with family is like after over 12 years away. It’s comforting, yet strange and a little confusing. I embraced this precious time with my mom and knew that after backpacking for months (and being the impossibly antsy person that I am) I needed a project. Despite being away from my childhood home for so long, I noticed it felt like it was frozen in time. It needed serious updating — especially our kitchen, which looked liked a relic of the 1970s (in reality it was, being as old as the house). With my first project decided on, I got to work. I was so naive to think this was something that could be done in a couple of weeks. Anyone who has ever done a remodel or renovation will tell you to take your expected project completion time and double it. Listen to these people! This labor of love took almost two months of blood, sweat, and tears, 20+ trips to Ikea, 15+ trips to Home Depot, and way too many trips to tile shops where I’d catch myself saying things like, “this white is too white” or “I’d really like to see warmer gray tones.” Don’t even get me started on backsplash — “this is more of a Mediterranean vibe and I’m really going for Moroccan.”
Underneath the many (and I mean MANY) layers of exhaustion, I not only felt of sense of joy being able to do this for my mom, truly the most hard-working and kind human I know, but I realized how capable I was. Being a woman who can lay tile, assemble cabinets, and that understands plumbing, gives me a huge sense of pride and independence. More importantly, I not only remodeled a part of the house, but the MOST important part of the house. In my family’s Latin American culture, the kitchen is the central point for everything. It’s where you hang out after coming home to share your day. It’s where you share your meals with the people you care about most. It’s where you discuss the latest gossip from your big, crazy, but always entertaining family. The kitchen is the core of everything, so it was only fitting that it was transformed, creating a new chapter for both my mom and I.
Joining realtor.com’s Santa Clara office has been the latest homecoming for me. It’s important to work on something you believe in and I believe deeply in not just finding a home that’s right for you, but creating a home that’s reflective of who you are. Here at realtor.com, we help real people find homes for all those real moments in life — for me, that’s making Venezuelan food with my mom and dishing about our day in our humble (but new) kitchen that we love. I’ve realized along this wild journey that home is not just the four walls you sleep inside, your home is a marker of a time in your life and something you can create, whether you’re there for a month, a year, or a lifetime. While Florida is no longer a place I reside, I’m proud to have my mark on a place that will always be home.