“I’m going to make this place your home.” –Phillip Phillips
Over the past three months I’ve fluctuated between a little and devastatingly homesick. This longing for familiarity has dizzied my brain with all its running in circles. I’m in a sort of limbo where I’m not sure where I should refer to as home: the place I am currently, physically in, or the place so familiar to me where I was born and raised.
Is home a place? No, I don’t think so. Is it part of it? Yes. A year ago, when I went home for winter break, I remember driving down my hometown streets with the windows down, even though it was about 50 degrees outside. The feel of cold, humidity-free air after the suffocating Florida summer and “fall” was amazing, as was pulling into each of my parents’ and friends’ driveways. There was one mind-blowing moment when I was configuring my rental car’s radio stations. I came across a station that was playing Spanish-pop songs, and I excitedly said to myself, “Oh! This reminds me of home!” Home, as in Florida, the state I had just flown 3,000 miles from. It was like I had mistakenly called my lover by my mistress’ name.
Is home people? Of course. But people change all the time. I’ve had this crashing realization when relationships crumble away unexpectedly and when friends start making homes of their own. The feeling of home can dissolve pretty quickly, but it can be recreated, too. When I come home from work, there’s no better feeling than joining my roommates curled up on our couches in the living room and recounting our days. That feels like home. When I laugh so hard I cry at dinner with friends I’ve known for over a decade in California, that feels like home, too.
There are some people that will always incite the warm feeling of home in me. My mom is one of them. There have been too many times to count over the past months where all I wanted was a mom hug. There is no substitute for that, no matter how great of friends or boyfriend you have within arm’s reach. Instead I had to satisfy myself with long-distance phone calls that were calming but still left something to be desired. In between body-shaking sobs I’d cry that I just wanted to go home. My mom would gently remind me that going home would not simply solve all of my problems. Things would be different than the last time I was home. Things are always changing.
In two days, I’ll embark on about eight hours of flying time and touch down just after nightfall on the west coast. My home. It may not be my current place of residence, but as of now that’s what I will continue to call it because that’s what I’m used to. I’m eager to see what exactly this will feel like. It may be that home is neither place nor people, but points in time; fleeting moments when all the right people are in the right place at the right time, and this beautiful sense of belonging happens.
Or maybe home is simply a choice, and I’ll just have to try a little harder to make this place my home.