Home Is Not Just Where The Stuff Is

Where is my home? I think about this questions a lot and coming up with an answer is not always easy.

First, I was born in California. Third generation Californian-born on one side of my family to be exact. So that's kind of a home. But I haven't been back to the town where I spent the first four years of my life in many years. So is that really my home?

Is home where I dressed up as a neon butterfly?

Is home where I dressed up as a neon butterfly?

Next on the list is what I consider my hometown in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland. This is where I really grew up- where I went to school, made lifelong friends, and had lots of firsts- first kiss, car, blue crab, etc. My family had one house the entire time we lived there and to me it will always be ours. I still drive by whenever I'm in town and the pine tree seedling I planted on the side of the house now consumes a huge part of the yard. That will always be my tree. But, we don't live there anymore, so is that really my home?

My family now lives in Omaha. They have roots there through work, marriage, church, and friends made after downplaying their left-coast hippie background. I visit quite often, or at least more than I ever thought I'd ever go to Nebraska. But that's the thing, I always feel like I'm visiting. So while it's home to some of my nearest and dearest, it's not really mine. Is where my family live really my home?

Is home where I had this sweet desk top computer and an extra long twin bed?

Is home where I had this sweet desk top computer and an extra long twin bed?

In the last 15 years, I've lived in 10+ different addresses. That includes four different dorm rooms in cinder-block castles at Boston University, a brief stint in Seattle, the cheapest overpriced studio I could find in Boston after graduation, a chicken-scented bedsit in London, two other Ikea-furnished apartments in West London, a slightly more adult-esque apartment (still with the Ikea and a futon) just outside Boston, and my current (still mainly Ikea-furnished, but no futon!) place in Chicago.

Did I mention moving is the worst? But I have so many memories from each of these places, from who I was dating and hanging out with to where I was in my career, to major life and historic events. When I see them again, many of those memories come rushing back- these small rooms have helped define me. But are they really my home?

Now I'm actually looking at buying a home with my boyfriend. When we first started going to open houses and searching through endless listing on the internet, it honestly made me want to vomit. Thinking about why I had such a visceral reaction, I realized that maybe I'm one of those people who isn't meant to have just one home.

My home is where my ancestors came from, where I spent my formative years, where my family is now, where I branched out on my own, where I've had major life mistakes and triumphs, and where I lay my head now next to a chunky old grey cat. The thought of having such permanent roots to someone who cherishes the freedom to explore can be overwhelming. But I've realized that leaving a home doesn't mean it leaves you.

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