This Is What "Home" Is

For many of us, the word "home" evokes memories of the house we grew up in. You can still remember the smell of your mother's cooking lingering into your bedroom after a long day at school, and how torturous it was to wait for it to finally be ready. You can still hear the jingling sound of the ice cream truck that made you sprint as fast as your stubby legs could carry you in the heat of an August day.You can still imagine being tucked into bed with a loving kiss on the forehead, only to lie awake for hours staring at the glowing stars on your ceiling and your rainbow-colored night-light. You can still remember leaping excitedly into your father's arms when he burst through the door after work. Every inch of that home is deeply embedded with memories; the walls that you got in trouble for coloring on with sharpie, the beds that were bounced on endlessly, the coffee table that you danced atop of to sing all of your favorite songs into a hairbrush. That is home.

When you step inside your dorm room for the first time, it is a cold, barren, and unwelcoming space. Slowly, your parents help you dress your bed in stylish bedding, hang up your music posters, and unpack the storage bins you purchased from Bed Bath and Beyond. You still remember how it felt to hug your parents goodbye before you spent your first night alone. As your mom squeezed you like she never wanted to let go, just for a moment, you felt like you might cry. Slowly, then all at once, your dorm room became a coveted space. After a long day of class, you found relief at the thought of cozying up in bed to watch movies all night. You became accustomed to the music posters, the photographs, and the twinkling lights that surrounded you. You developed new memories, like the times you and your roommate stayed in to drink wine, the many hours spent studying at your desk, and watching people have snowball fights outside of your window. Sometimes, you'd even tell your friends that you're going "back home" to your room.

Your first apartment will one day become "home". You will grow quite fond of its dinginess, and learn to laugh when your appliances inevitably break and you have to call the landlord. You will lovingly decorate it with throw pillows and colorful dishes and the sofa you purchased from a lovely couple at a garage sale. It will be the place where you brew your morning coffee, take off your heels after a long day at work, and spend mornings brushing your teeth in your underwear.

Home will be the drawer in your boyfriend's apartment especially for you. It will be the spot in the medicine cabinet where you place your second toothbrush next to his. It will be the nights you spend eating Chinese food out of takeout containers on the kitchen floor, the mornings spent making breakfast in your underwear, and the hours spent playfully jumping on the bed together. Home is the way he says "goodnight", the way that he unbuttons his collared shirts-- the way he looks at you like you are magic.

Home will be the house in the suburbs that you build for your children. It will be unpacking moving box after moving box. It will be the pasta dinner that you proudly serve your husband on the fancy china you received as wedding gifts. It will be staying up all night together painting the walls of the nursery blue for your new baby boy. It will be the way that your husband kisses your belly. It will be your son's first steps, first words, first birthday. It will be a place where you watch your family bloom.

There will come a day when your parents decide to put your childhood home up for sale. They may move to a smaller house ten minutes down the road, or perhaps to a whole new city in a new state. There will be no more pink bedroom walls, no bins of dress-up clothes, no dainty white furniture. Just a modest home for two, with a guest room for you and your husband to spend the night, of course.

A house is a residence; a home goes much deeper.A home is not always the place you grew up in; as our lives unfold the definition of home that we create for ourselves is constantly changing. Take the new job in the new city. Meet new friends. Fall in love. Create a home for yourself there. A home is your beloved sanctuary. No matter where life takes you and no matter what the future may hold, be thankful that you have a place to call your home.

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