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“Home is where the heart is” likely has a really profound, comforting message, but by now it’s become too Hallmark for me to really put much to it. But I do agree that home is not always a place. It’s not necessarily tied to a location, although we tend to associate the two. As a child of parents who divorced when I was only four years old, constantly moving and traveling between houses left me feeling…uprooted. I learned quickly that, sure, a house is not necessarily a home; but I also struggled to feel like I had one.

 

I don’t blame my parents for any of this, by the way. They fell out of love, they weren’t the people they were when they first met–things change, I get it. I am glad they divorced, in the name of and for the integrity of love and relationships. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t experience some of the negative consequences of being a child between worlds.

 

I’ve moved residences roughly 13 times in my life, that I’m aware of. I traded houses every other week (my parents’ had a 50/50 custody split). I used to never fully unpack my bag because it seemed like too much of a hassle just to repack it a week later. Now, I’m a pretty solid packer, but back then I was not. I would cram anything and everything that I thought I might need and carry around this massive duffel bag, to which an elementary school teacher once laughed and commented that I looked homeless. In hindsight, that’s not a very appropriate thing to say to an 11-year-old, but if I think about it, she wasn’t totally wrong. I felt very displaced, never as though a place was my home, a place where I truly and fully belonged. That was really hard for me. I started nesting, a term that describes filling in a place and developing it to make it a little sanctuary, much like what birds do. Cue the first time I moved everything into one place, I learned I had about two of everything. It was bad.

 

So if my house wasn’t my home, where or what was my home? Beginning of high school, I thought, well maybe I can find home in people. And I think that can be true, but I went about it all wrong. I began to hyper-romanticize my first boyfriend (who was also a very toxic individual) and almost force seeing a home in him. Needless to say, it went pretty horribly. I instead ended up emotionally tying myself to him, which kept me in that relationship about three months longer than I should have been. I’d started to see it in the comfort of some of my best friends, but then I lost two of those friendships within a year of each other because it just didn’t work out. What was I doing wrong?

 

I figured it out, dear readers. I was trying too hard. I was wanting it a little too much. The second half of high school through my second year of college (now) I got distracted by a lot of negative thinking. I was floating aimlessly in a dark bubble of self-doubt, of not feeling like I knew who I was, of feeling like a failure and a disappointment. I carried a lot of those feelings alone because I didn’t feel allowed to “burden” others with them. When I hit a breaking point and slowly started sharing my feelings with my family, I got a response that sounds pretty expected but that I hadn’t anticipated because I hadn’t felt deserving enough. My sisters looked at me like I was ridiculous, that of course I wasn’t a failure. “Anna, just look at all the things you’re doing.” My mom helped me start the process of seeing a therapist for a little while. My dad began to vocalize, “I’m proud of you.” And I hadn’t realized how much I needed to hear that. That’s when I started to feel like I had a home. I found it amidst my pain. I’d been holding myself to such high expectations while feeling like I couldn’t meet them. I was crippling myself under the weight of shame of not being enough. But I was. I was and am enough, and my family sees that. I just couldn’t.

What does this have to do with finding home? Well, I’ll tell you. Home is a place where you find comfort. It’s a place where you know love is waiting for you, where you know you can go in and feel a little stronger in the battles you face. It’s the place you rush to to get a breath of fresh air. Home is the warmth of my dad’s chest when I hug him. Home is the way my older sister makes herself shorter while she hugs me because she likes to assume a really wide stance for a super stable hug. Home is my family sitting around a table, laughing endlessly wherever we are, sometimes obnoxiously so. Sure, home is where the heart is, but I want to take it a step further and say that home is where your heart feels full. Because home is also my best friend’s bed while her cats trap us in, it’s my non-boyfriend’s way of calling me everything but my name, it’s my mother’s willingness to help, always. Home will survive a move across town or across the country, a natural disaster, or the devastation of poverty, because home is found in each other.

 

Anna Petgrave

Seattle U '21

Anna Petgrave Major: English Creative Writing; Minor: Writing Studies Her Campus @ Seattle University Campus Correspondent and Senior Editor Anna Petgrave is passionate about learning and experiencing the world as much as she can. She has an insatiable itch to travel and connect with new and different people. She hopes one day to be a writer herself, but in the meantime she is chasing her dream of editing. Social justice, compassion, expression, and interpersonal understanding are merely a few of her passions--of which she is finding more and more every day.
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