When Home is No Longer a Place

 

 

My “home” has been Charlotte, North Carolina for the majority of my life. Before that, my home was Toms River, New Jersey.

 

The definition of “home” to me has changed over the years. The eight-year-old girl in New Jersey thought that New Jersey would forever be her home and that nowhere else could ever compete with it. The house that I lived in, specifically, became my definition of home.

When my family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, my definition of home changed again. Yes, it was the physical house I lived in that meant so much to me, but the city became my home too. I could go anywhere in the span of Charlotte’s borders and feel almost as comfortable as I did in my own house. My friends (shout out to Lily, Aaron and the Hazantourage) became integrated in my definition of home. I could feel “at home” with any of them, as long as we were together.

The summer after senior year of high school, my family moved into my grandparent’s house for eight weeks as my parents worked to build their own. I had an overwhelming feeling of homelessness during this time; I was sharing a room with my brother, I was in a house that wasn’t mine, my friends were farther away and all my personal belongings were already packed for college. Nothing about the household I was staying in felt like “home,” even though it contained all of my family in one place. After this summer, it seemed to me like the idea of “home” no longer existed. I felt lost.

 

I then moved into college at the best place on earth (GO TIGERS) at Clemson University. My home became Geer 207, the tiny dorm room in the middle of campus. For the first time in awhile, I began to feel as if I had a true home again.

That is until the homesickness set in.

 

As I began to struggle with homesickness, I was more confused than ever. What home was I sick for? I had spent the last eight weeks feeling as if I didn’t belong in the place I was living, but now I had the overwhelming urge to go to the familiar rooms and faces of my previous living situation.

 

It was then that my definition of home made another (and final) switch.

 

I came to realize that home isn’t a place at all. Without the people you share it with, home is just a spot on the map.

 

For me, in 2017, Clemson is still my home. It’ll always be home to me because of the people I love here (hello Meg and Colton [x2]) and the memories I’ve made in this place. Over the summer, my home was Camp Chestnut Ridge in Efland, North Carolina where I found a new camp family that changed the way I looked at the world. But now Indian Land, South Carolina is home too. It’s home because the family I love is still there. And Leeds, England will be my home next semester, where I’ll study abroad in the spring.

 

 

I came across a quote by Miriam Adney that says:

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

 

I agree with Adney on most of this quote, I do disagree in one regard: Adney describes this phenomenon as a “price to pay”, a burden you must bear for loving other people. And although missing people that are far away can be so sharp and painful it feels like your chest will break open, I’ve come to consider it a blessing.

Because of those I love, I now have homes all over the world.

 

I have a home in NYC where my best friend is living out her dream. I have a home in Australia where two sweet boys I will never forget helped me to have the summer of a lifetime. I have a home in Texas with a horse-loving friend, Boone, with a sister I never knew I would have, Colorado with an Aunt and Uncle, Georgia with a boy who has a piece of my heart, Poland, Wales, England; the list is endless.

 

This is something I have grown to understand. If I could, I would go back to the broken eight-year-old girl, crying because she didn’t want to leave home. I would walk to her, wipe the tears with the pads of my thumbs, and show her pictures of all of the new homes she would have across her lifetime. And no, they wouldn’t be street signs or brick buildings, but the faces of every person her heart would come to love. Faces so kind she’d know she’d be taken care of.

 

Faces so loving she knows she’d share herself with all of them and not regret one single thing.