The question kills me every time.
“Oh my gosh, you’re going home?! Are you so excited?!”
Inevitably, a yes escapes my lips, paired with an ever-deceiving smile. Because the real answer takes work to explain. The real answer is messy, and confusing, and truthfully, I’m not entirely sure of the answer.
It’s like when someone asks, “How are you doing?” and instead of unloading your struggles, insecurities, and private triumphs of the day, you respond with a generic, socially-acceptable:
Do you mean any of that crap? Probably not. But does your audience really care to know the truth?
“Home” used to be a fairly simple concept; it was my “good,” and I meant it. But after a couple years of college, moving to a new state and beginning my own life there, “home” has become a nebulous concept.
If you Google “Home,” you have to scroll a bit to find a definition — and even then, it’s from Wikipedia. But if you Google “home definition,” you’re immediately given two noun definitions, two adjectives, an adverb, and two verbs, all claiming to encompass everything that “home” may be. But limiting “home” to a physical dwelling place seems unfair to what “home” really is. Although “home” can be a physical location, isn’t it more about the experiences, the people, and the memories that anchor you to a specific time and place?
I know I’m not the only one who’s lost. Music has been used as a means to define “home” recently.
Phillip Phillips talks about creating a home, making some unfamiliar place one’s “home.” He even accepts the responsibility of making “this place” someone’s “home,” a weighty pledge within the song.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros equates “home” with people or a particular person, holding, “home is whenever I’m with you.”
Michael Buble (swoon) alludes to a person in some particular physical location being “home,” again destroying the dictionary definition.
And Pinterest then turns the definition of home entirely on its head, quoting Miriam Adeney’s idea that “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.”
So maybe it’s ok that I have to consciously stop myself from saying “back home” when speaking about school. Maybe it’s ok that I still consider my place of origin “home” as well. Perhaps that stupid Pinterest quote is right: perhaps “home” will be hard to come by from here on out. My “home” is far too dependent on an ever-changing plethora of experiences, people, and memories to be contained within a city, a state, or a region.
Back to the complicated question that started it all: “Oh my gosh, you’re going home?! Are you so excited?!”
I am….but I also am not. Because I have pieces of “home” that are missing, pieces of “home” that are…everywhere, now.
Tad Williams said, “Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it — memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.”
Am I excited to go home? Yes, I am. But the physical aspect of “going home” is too limited.
Am I excited to visit a familiar place full of memories, people I love, and experiences that have shaped me?
But there is so much more to my definition of “home” now.
If “home is where the heart is”, maybe my heart resides with my “homies” — with the people who have shaped me, instead of the places that have changed me. Maybe the place is just a reminder of the people whose memories still linger around the corner.
Hug your homies a little tighter, friends — be they your parents, your friends, or experiences that you can hug only with your heart.
Because, together, they constitute your home.