May it bring you hope to know that home is just a place that we create
That it comes and goes, ebbs and flows with the steps we take.
You’re never lost, though you’ve not found all the things to keep you whole,
With every struggle, choose to cling to what enables you to grow.
Patience will deliver you to the joys that you deserve,
Amid your fears, remain sincere through a willingness to learn.
May you be strong and remain kind in this world wherein you are small.
May you stay grounded by the purpose to be a source of light for all.
I can feel my body shrivel inside of my head every time a trip home approaches. I grow quiet: pensively absorbed by anticipation; the looming plane ride: a vacuum slowly sucking me backward into routines as familiar as they are foreign. It's a confusing feeling, too, because I love my home-- all of the people, experiences, love, joys, and sorrows it brought me are gifts I hope not to neglect-- and still, each time I return to it, I am overcome by this powerful, wrenching, paralyzing nostalgia that slogs the clock hands and mutes the town’s colors.
When you go to college, especially in a distant place, it can feel like life restarts. It’s a disorienting and liberating freedom that allows you to choose your environment, your friends, your passions, your schedule, your hobbies, your life in a way that you likely hadn’t been able to before. And, if you’re like me, you make choices that align with your happiness, driving you deeper into joy each day. If you’re like me, it feels like you’re constantly progressing toward something great-- like each day operates only by the strength of your will and in the direction of your fate. I know I’m being dramatic (not to mention disgustingly romanticizing the sweaty frat house basements that the “strength of my will” often fates me with). But, I feel forced to advocate that very tired sentiment from the countless adults who beg us to cherish this time in our lives, as I feel I can finally understand what that subsequent glimmer in their eye reflects.
I recognize it now for that same glint is what seems to surface whenever I return home-- like a tear that wells but never falls. It is sadness, yes, but a sort of blissful, resonant melancholy more palpable than nostalgia. It’s that captivating feeling that accompanies flipping through old photo albums; it’s the weight of that audible sigh or moment of pause that follows sharing a funny memory. It’s gratitude, it’s grief, it’s love, it’s loss. It’s the beautifully estranging awareness that what once was 'home' is now but a gallery of meanings I have given it.
One of the first classes I took when arriving to college instilled the concept of “border dwelling:” the difficulty of identifying with multiple places at once, thus never fully identifying with any place at all. It’s a disorienting and liberating freedom that college students everywhere must navigate. And, if you’re like me, you only really feel this freedom's burden when you’re forced to confront the existence of its border-- when you’re forced to confront the fact that neither place you dwell can really be home.
It can be a debilitatingly sad and isolating thought if you think about it for too long. Yet, and what I insist upon reminding myself each and every day, “home” is a concept created by and for ourselves; it is that fulfillment I intend to drive myself closer toward with every choice I make. Home can no longer mean the past I grow from or the future I aspire toward; rather, it warrants a profound contentment with myself. To be our own home, our own comfort, is the development of that vulnerable kind of strength that all of us must instill within ourselves; a recognition of personhood independent from everything you feel inseparable from; it’s growing up, it’s moving on, it’s acknowledging life's impermanence and, nevertheless, finding home within it.