It’s a concept I’ve been struggling a lot with lately, especially as I’m about to embark on some of the most challenging and exciting adventures I’ve had in my life so far – but the realization that I’ll be at an internship in DC for the summer, then straight to London for a semester abroad, then planning on spending my final summer in Ithaca (and then… graduation??) means that I’m not going to be living at this physical “home” anymore.
Even in my first year at Ithaca, home started to evolve into something more fluid. As a college student, campus pretty quickly develops into a second home. This is where the roadblock develops – when someone asks me where my home is, I almost always find myself having to ask, “what do you mean?”
Home is elusive.
The real concept of home is very different from the dictionary definition – “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household” (thanks, Google). This tells us very little about the feeling of home – of belonging, of safety. Homesickness can be a very real and crippling thing – but for me, it is often summertime when I feel most homesick. I love my family to death, but the distance between all of my friends is much more challenging for me, possibly because these are people I haven’t spent my whole life with, and may only get the chance to spend time with for a very short period of my life. There is a very large part of me that feels most at home just when I am with them, not in a physical space – but there is also a relief in being able to come back to a room or a house and collapsing into a bed that may or may not be “yours.” Is that feeling “home” just as much as the safety that comes with being with people you trust?
Home is where the heart is.
This is one that always catches me. Because my heart is in so many places. My heart is where I grew up in Chicago, but it’s also in Ithaca. It’s with my friends in New York and India and Vermont and Pennsylvania and Illinois. I know my heart will stay in London, at least for a bit. I started to run into this problem a lot my freshman year, of not really feeling like “home” was solidly in one place. This also meant that I felt like I didn’t really belong in one place, either, which is an existential crisis that I really didn’t need in my first semester of college, but there you have it. I’m not sure I really belong anywhere, to be honest, and that’s the thing I’ve settled on with the idea of home.
Home is a nomad.
I’ve often described myself as having “aggressive wanderlust.” I think this stems from the fact that I
can’t could never really sit still as a child. I just need to move. As I’ve grown older, this movement is not just in my chair or skipping across the room – it’s around the world. And that means you have to find home in everything – in a hug or a helpful local or a postmarked letter. Home is a feeling. Home is what you make it. Home is where you find safety and belonging and wonder. Home, for my summer and fall semester, is going to be very different than any home I’ve had – and that’s an adventure I’m not sure I’m ready for but I’m going to take on anyway.