The past few months have transformed my concept of Home. I began my first bright-eyed week of college repeating over and over a book jacket version of myself: “Julianna, freshman, outside of Philly”, to everyone I met. School was where I was and home was where I wasn’t—nothing much to ponder.
However, as the semester progressed, I found the word ‘Home’ slipping loosely off my tongue. ‘Home’ now described my dorm or my building or the school itself. This unchecked multiplication pushed my out-dated ‘homing’ device to the brink of its breaking point.
And this point did come. It cracked on a five hour Southbound Amtrak and broke on the way back North. Thanksgiving break solidified my fear that I no longer had any idea what Home was.
This realization came to me in the form of Facebook cover photos. Thinking myself pretty clever, I changed the current display of a sunset in Pennsylvania to one in Rhode Island with the duplicate caption of “No Place Like Home”. For a while, I was profoundly self-impressed with this use of juxtaposition. Then I realized I had impressed—and confused—nobody but myself:
Somewhat clever juxtaposition:
What is Home? Is it a place? Is it more than one place? Is it ‘where your heart is’? My concept of Home has been flipped, folded, turned inside out, and hidden somewhere I don’t think I’ll find for some time. The dictionary-definition of Home is a place where one spends the majority of their time, but I’m not sure this works for me anymore. As time goes on, I will spend more and more time away from where I grew up, be farther and farther from best friends and memories and places I call Home. The majority of my time may be spent where nothing and no one knows who I am.
Maybe Home is just that: Home. It’s whatever you ask it to be: your dorm room, your parent’s house, your birth-place, your summer-place, your memory of a place or none of the above. Maybe Home is crying when seeing your dad six weeks into college. Or falling into your best friend’s arms. Or hearing that music from that time you smiled, that joke from the time you laughed. Maybe It lives in that feeling—whether fleeting or enduring—that reminds you that all is well.
And maybe it is just that. For below that first dictionary-definition lies another: Home is a place where something flourishes.
I flourish from New Hampshire to Texas and at many points in between. I flourish wherever I know there is joy. Where there is love. I don’t need a permanent address or a set of coordinate points to know I am Home. As life continues, the number of Facebook cover photos with the caption “No Place Like Home” will multiply and the ‘juxtaposition’ will go from awkward to embarrassing. Because maybe there really isn’t a place quite like Home. Maybe Home is so limitless and indefinable that clicking the heels of your Ruby Red slippers won’t land you in Kansas but right back in Oz.
My life has transformed my concept of Home. My book jacket self will continue to diverge from “Julianna, freshman, outside of Philly” until it is no longer recognizable. And I may never know where, or whom, or what Home really is, but I can still hold one thing to be true:
There is No Place Like Home.
Unanswerable Question: What is Home?