Maya Angelou once said that "the ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place we can go as we are and not be questioned." People search for lifetimes for home, regardless of whether or not they like where they live. Some people search within themselves for home, and others look to a partner. I tend to look for home in a more traditional sense: in a place.
For a person who dislikes change as much as I do, I have moved around a fair bit. The first time I moved was when I was five years old. My parents moved from their starter home in a neighborhood that was declining in safety to a plot of land that my grandparents sold to them. They built a small white house on it, and I called this place home until it was time for me to go to college.
When I was deciding what college to go to, I took distance into account at first. I had never lived without my parents, and I did not know if I could stomach being away from them for long periods of time. I considered all the schools around my hometown, but ultimately decided that it would be wiser to go with a more affordable option than a closer one. I chose Peru State College, a small school almost 500 miles away from my parents' house.
The hardest part about moving to Peru, Nebraska was leaving all of my high school friends behind. I did not make my friends in high school easily, and I was terrified that without their support, I would flounder socially and mentally. However, I made it through the early days without knowing anyone. The sudden plunge into a society where I knew no one was frightening, but refreshing. No one knew who I was, and I didn't know who they were. Everyone started out with a blank slate, and there were no cliques among the freshman group yet. I made friends in my freshman year of college out of necessity, but I kept most of my friends because they made the cracked pavement, brick walls, and stray cats of Peru, Nebraska feel a little more like home.
Even within the town of Peru, I have moved a lot. I moved out of Eliza Morgan Hall, the all girls dormitory, after my freshman year. I moved in with three friends, and after a year in that house, I found a room in a house that was much more affordable. This house holds most of my memories of Peru. It is a huge 5 bedroom craftsman style that rests on the main street through town, and always has a great host of characters living in it.
When I started living in this house, I realized that Nebraska had become my home. The sunlit hardwood floors, 1970's orange kitchen counter tops, and resident black cat curled up into my heart. I found myself wishing I was there when I made the 8 hour drive back to my parents' house. "I'm ready to go home," I would think to myself as I stared at the untouched decor of my old bedroom in my parents' house. The anime posters and collection of stuffed animals on top of my desk stared at me. My old room was alien to me. It didn't embody me anymore.
Now that I'm graduating from Peru State College, I will move again. Relocating when a place is still home to me is bittersweet. While I'm leaving a sense of home, and my friends that make a place even better, I'm headed on past the horizon to things I've never seen before. New places and new friends are waiting for me in the future. I will miss all the experiences and friendships that have come together to make a home for me in Peru, Nebraska, but my heart tells me that it is time for change. It is time to feel new things, and taste the air in a different part of the world.
Home can be anywhere that you feel like you belong. Don't stop searching until you find the place that you know you can be forever. Don't settle for anything less, even if it means leaving something you'll miss. You can always visit your old home and old friends. They'll be waiting for you.