I’m currently working and living at least half of my life from a hotel in a small town. I’ve been here for about 80 days out of the last six months. I know this town as well, if not better, than many places I’ve had a home. I know and recognize people here, know the back alleys and side streets.
I don’t own a home, make my own meals, or keep many possessions here.
My family are back in Florida. My car, files, television set and old photos are in Florida.
You could send correspondence to me in this small town and I’d get it. I have familiar routines, but eat out dinner every day of the week.
I wouldn’t say that I’ve lived someplace I only visited and briefly. But when does that switch flip? What if I end up here for years? My brother worked on a project in Salem, Massachusetts for about five years, commuting there every week, then home on the weekends? For me, I’m here for 2-3 weeks, then back in Florida for a week to ten days.
Even if I were here for five years, in some respects, I’d be “just visiting”. On the other hand, by the end of the year I will have been here longer than some places that I lived.
I think living has nothing to do with the amount of time you spend somewhere, it’s how you spend that time. You could spend every day working in an office 9-5 and still not feel like it’s a home, but you could spend a week moved into a friend’s house, sharing everything and enjoying yourself, and feel like you lived there for that week.
Did I “live” in Germany for two years while I was in the Army, or was I just visiting? Everything that mattered to me was back in Michigan.
What about when I “lived” in Wheaton, Il, for several months? Everything I owned was with me, but it certainly didn’t feel like a home.
I’ve spent a year (twice) in Mexico, once in a hotel, once in a house. The former felt like a long business trip, and the latter felt like actually living there. I’ll be doing it again very soon; will I be living there, or just staying there?