The thing about coming home is that all efforts you made to pop the bubble you grew up in are suddenly questioned, at least the first time you make it back. I haven't been home in three months, and when I woke up yesterday morning, for a moment, I wondered if I had dreamt all of college. Then, it was 40 degrees outside and raining and I realized it was not summer so therefore time had passed.

The weirdest part is that "my home" is my dorm, because it’s a home I made for myself, but “home” is a shared home. “Home” is not “mine” it’s “ours"—the home of my family, of my friends. The thing that makes it home is the fact that it is shared by the people I love. This is why home will always be a part of you, because the memories won't be forgotten. Home is just a bunch of experiences and feelings all smashed together through music, food, ridiculous stories, and stupid mistakes. Home isn't the physical place necessarily, but rather it’s the physical place that reminds you of all those stories and memories.

This is why when families move, the home goes with them (and all that cheesy crap about home is where the heart is, blah blah blah, sorry). But really, you can love a place for more than the beauty of it. There are places far more beautiful than my hometown and yet I make the effort to spend Thanksgiving break in the freezing cold, gray, and rainy island where most of my old friends don't talk to me anymore and the other half aren't even home themselves. And why? Why would I come to a place that has caused me so much trouble? Because of the good; because of my mom and stepdad, the friends who stuck by me, the food that isn't dining hall garbage, the people I’ve missed, and those I can make amends with. I came home for the people and feelings. And OK, yeah, it’s nice to not hear screaming drunks outside my window at night, and hellllloooooo queen sized bed and a big, open room all to myself (not to mention candles. I’m allowed to risk burning this house down). But when it comes down to what makes a home a home, it’s the people; the traditions.

I made a list of things we had to do while I was home for a mere two days: go on a walk with mom, see the shiny new library, cook a big dinner while listening to music, make morning pancakes, and have movie nights. It was really just a compilation of all the things that make me feel the most at home, even if they have no real satisfactory substitute out of the context of my own old, little, white farmhouse by the sea.

I missed the view of the salt pond outside my window, and the dry air from the Glenwood stove that always makes me sneeze. And yeah, I’m stealing hot chocolate packets and ceramic plates from my house (girl’s gotta keep the dorm stocked), but the best part about being home after months is taking your changed self—your self sufficient self—and letting your old world take care of you, but not push you around. That's the best part. You’ve removed yourself for long enough to make yourself your own person and find what you wanted for your life and maybe even some slight definition in progress or classes or whatever you strive for, and you've had to do it with your own motivation and strength.

Through long essay nights, sleeping in past appointments, having to actually seek out your own meals, and making sure you don't go broke, you've made some semblance of a life on your own. For me, as a highly independent person, this wasn't too hard, but there really is no comparison to coming home and getting to just be. It’s so much easier and lighter to be with your family when the stress of life now lives somewhere else. For someone who hated a lot of high school (not all—shout out to my squad ((I have no idea if you read these articles @squaG))), leaving home was a long awaited dream and something I was able to use to make myself better, while coming home was literally so scary it took three months and the dorms closing to get me out. I’ve realized it's not so scary though, because coming home is what you make it. It's the friends you see, the people you hug and cry with, and the boundaries you set that make it worth it. The people you love, and missed. They are your home.

And now, all I have to say to you—my lost love whom I will love forever and always—is, thank you so much.