I’ve spent the last week at home on Spring Break, hypothetically catching up sleep but actually staying up after midnight every night to catch up on reading. I finished my Flannery O’Connor short stories (after starting it in second semester senior year and slowly wading my way through it), started and finished some F. Scott Fitzgerald shorts, then got sick of short stories and decided to start on a novel—I bought To Kill a Mockingbird and read it in a day in a half. I loved it, and now I’m one step closer to calling myself a proper English major; it’s vaguely embarrassing what major classics I still haven’t read.
Aside from reading, I’ve basically been kicking around feeling aimless. It’s odd to go from a regular, fairly strict routine that has me out of bed at 7 or 8 every day and busy working until 11 or 12 at night to having to do absolutely nothing and taking full advantage of that. I ran a lot of errands with my mom and hung out with my friends a few times, just feeling vaguely out of place. Some slip-ups while talking to my mom (“Well, at home I—I mean, at college”) and some conversations I had with my friends brought to the surface again a recurring train of thought about where home is for me.
When I’m at college, my friends and I talk about home a lot. My roommate, Sophie, says home for her is the place where she can change into her pajamas and unwind at the end of the day, while another of our friends says home is back in California, where she can go to the beach and surf. “I don’t say ‘go home’ when I mean going back to the college, I say ‘let’s go back’.” Sophie and I look at each other and Sophie says, “I say go home, but where my family is is home to me too.” I frown. “I say ‘go home’ when I mean here. But I think here is home to me. Home is where I live—I live here. But then home is also where my parents are? But not as much.” But then there’s always this caveat: as a military kid, I’ve been uprooted and had to adapt to a new location quite a few times. So there’s definitely no one place that feels like home—if I had to pick anywhere I’ve lived that I feel the most strongly about, I’d say England, probably because my first memories are there. But does that make it home to me? I don’t think so, it just makes it somewhere I love and want to go back to. I’d like to make it my home, but it isn’t home right now.
So location is out. I haven’t lived in one place my entire life like Sophie has; I don’t have a strong attachment to my house or my town because every friend, experience, and memory of my childhood happened there. Sure, there are places that are important to me, like my grandma’s house, but there’s no one place that I walk into and think, “This place is my home.” Logically the next option is people—home is where my family is? Home is where my friends are? The problem with that line of thinking is that I make friends wherever I am, and as I move on to one place, my friendships from the last place start to fade away. As for my family, I love them a ton and miss them a lot when I’m away, but right now it feels natural for me to be away from them. I’m on my own voyage, making my own path; this period of my life is to make decisions, figure out who I am and where I’m going, and to build my independence. As important to my family is to me, living apart from them is really crucial to the current stage of my life. So while where my family is is ‘home’ in a sense, it’s not the place where I feel fully my own, fully involved and fully comfortable like it used to be.
Home isn’t a specific place, or specific people, or even where my stuff is. Home to me is where my routine is based; home is where I am, where I’m involved, where I’m living up to my potential and making a life for myself. As stupid as it sounds to say my home is centered around where I am, it’s true. Wherever I go, those places will become important to me, I will make friends and find people who become my support system, and my family and the people I genuinely love will always be there—even if they are far away, they’re with me in every way that matters and wherever I make my home.
So right now home for me is college, because that’s where my life is. I’m okay with that. My family is a Skype call or a plane flight away, as are all of my friends who go to other colleges. The world is smaller than it used to be, which makes home less rooted to me than some people see it.
At the end of the day, I guess my sense of adventure is stronger than my sense of home. It makes sense that my idea of home is one that’s… portable, I guess. Always open to a change; adaptable. Maybe nomadic, but home isn’t on the road—it’s the places that become stepping stones in my journey. Home is where my heart is, literally. Where I go, I can make my home, and I keep those who don’t come with me in my heart, so they can be there too.