Home (noun) a place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. Notice how the Oxford Dictionary defines a home as a place that someone lives at permanently. Many people spend their whole childhood and adolescence all the way up until adulthood in the same household whereas other people move from house to house in just a few years. I fall in to the latter group. Twenty years old and three different houses doesn't sound like much on the outside but the effect it has on the inside is considerable.
The move from the Windy City to Saint Louis as an infant was painless, but the move from my childhood home where I grew up to a new home with all new faces was quite the burden. Growing up in my childhood home, I learned a few things about life and how it should be lived. My quiet neighborhood was to be found at the top of a steep hill that I could never manage to ride my bike all the way up without gravity forcing me to fall backward. The winding streets contained homes that were filled with welcoming arms and warm faces. Soon, I had two best friends to run to when my parents told me to do my homework or yelled at me for picking on my brothers. You could always find us running around the neighborhood with all the other kids playing games through the night. I found my home in those streets and in the innocent laughter we shared outside of my little white house stamped with 521. Through all of the adventures that we embarked on, I gained an insight into my life. I learned that happiness comes in tall and short packages with brown hair and Nike tennis shoes that take off running in the rain just for fun. Not only did it bring me happiness, but taught me to fully express myself in all that I do. Whether that was in playing Barbie dress up, finding the biggest hills to sled down, or running to 'the rock' to escape all our family stress. These things may seem small in comparison to lots of other adventures or experiences I've had in my lifetime, but as I look back, I realize that those were the big things. In these friends, I learned that a home is not a place, it’s a feeling.
My joy faded when I learned that I was moving to another part of town and had to leave my friends in the past. Heartbroken and confused, I packed up my room, my house, my life into a U-Haul moving truck and headed for my new home. If you've ever moved, you understand that moving into a new house feels foreign for ages. As the truck drove away, it took everything I ever loved about a home with it. I no longer felt like I had a place that was all mine - a safe haven. I felt alone and longed for the adventures that I once shared with my two best friends. In this third home, I did a lot of growing and maturing which in theory sounds great, but in that time, I lost my excitement for doing things that reminded me of being a child, of being free and vulnerable. I started to close myself off from the world because I had no one to share it with. Through this trying time, I was more than prepared to move away to college. I was used to the feeling of being alone and secluded from the rest of the world and I almost enjoyed it. So I packed up the U-Haul and hit the road to a new town filled with unfamiliar faces.
The first weeks of college were filled with many pros and few cons. Independence! Freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted! Although those aspects were a life changer, something was off. Believe it or not, I was homesick. I wasn’t homesick for those purple walls that collected dust while I was away, I was homesick for the warm embraces and the sweet smell of baking in the late hours of the night. I was homesick for the feeling after I had gotten a huge hug from my mom. I will reiterate my previous statement: home is not a place, it's a feeling.
It was a cold and bleak day in December when I had asked one of my sorority sisters to be my roommate the following year in-house. I did not know her very well but she was always someone who I was completely myself around without condition so I thought 'why not'. She reminded me to live life like a child again just as my two best friends did back in my little white house at the top of the hill. In this case, my happiness came in a small package with blonde hair and a big personality from Kansas City. At home during the summer I knew something was off, I had the same feeling when I went away to school in the fall. Soon enough I found myself packing a bag and driving 240 miles to visit her. I didn't visit just to go to a Royals game, because the Cardinals are better anyway, I visited her because I'm home when she's with me. Home is not a place, it's a feeling.
To the U-Haul moving truck, you have taken me many places including two different states and four different cities. I've had my ups and downs with you packing up my life and dropping me off with lots of unknowns. What I have learned is that the people that are beside me have given me a home when the walls that surrounded me have lacked that feeling.