“Home Life” by John Mayer (2003)

So; as I write this, I am closing in on one full month homebound due to the quarantine. This is the longest I’ve been stuck in one place since…well, since ever. It’s a weird feeling, to state the obvious. What makes it weirder is that I live alone. No roommate. No family members. No significant other or kids. While some of you who have those things may be wishing to be in my situation, I feel like it might be wise to remember that old saying about the grass being greener on the other side.

“Home Life”, from John Mayer’s second album Heavier Things, is about yearning for those domestic comforts. Wanting to “learn a last name”, finishing on a Friday, being stuck in traffic on the highway. I’m sure that after his initial blush with success, John had plenty of what the fuck? moments in which celebrity scared the shit out of him. Interviews, tour dates, other types of promotion? I’d imagine the desire to be in one place must have been strong.

The chorus finds John wanting to live “in the center of a circle” or “on the side of a square”, and later in the song, he states “I will go to my grave with the life that I’ve made/not just a melody line on a radio wave.” Nearly twenty years later, I wonder what the never-married, childless songwriter thinks about his own words (although holding someone to a vow they made twenty years ago is kind of silly, no?)

Domesticity–that life that some hold up as an ideal–works for some, but not for all. There were times (particularly when this song was out) when I thought that the single partner, house in the suburbs life might be for me. At this stage in my life, though, I wouldn’t consider it. A “home life” of some sort would be nice, but I’ve realized that having a home life can mean many different things. And right now, all I’ve got is a home life. I’m ready to find some balance.

(I realize in writing all of this that I haven’t mentioned the actual song much beyond a few stray lyrics, but trust me; it’s good. The entire back half of Heavier Things is a vibe-aside from “Daughters”, which is not one of Mayer’s best moments.)

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