Time and time again, I find myself astonished by the way I feel in certain cities. In some, I’m paranoid, but in others, I feel at home. I feel more myself in these places than anywhere else, and it makes me wonder what it truly means to constantly be happy. The strangest part is that I spent the least amount of time in these locations compared to places I grew up. These cities have achieved the status of home away from home, and I feel at peace with the world when I’m in them.

The first of these places is Flint, a city known for its crime rates, which surprised me with how much it now means to me. The city created memories with louder laughter and stronger friendships. I knew that I had already found myself before moving to college, but I finally felt free to be who I was. I chose to attend school there and because of it, Flint still feels like home every time I visit. Maybe it’s the people I see or the things I remember; regardless, I hardly turn down a chance to go back. I contemplate why I chose to live there when I could go anywhere else. As I remember the laughter and late nights with friends, it occurs to me just why I chose to live there.

It’s astonishing really, just how fast time goes in places like these. I never thought I’d feel so strongly about Flint, but I also never thought I’d leave it so early. On the other hand, there are places that I’ve never lived that I wish I had. Chicago, a place I convinced myself I would one day live, continues to baffle me. When I was younger, I went to the windy city to visit family and I instantly fell in love. It was the tourist activities that kept me intrigued, but as time changed, so did my enjoyment of the city. I began to wonder if I only liked it for the activities done on vacations and not the actual town itself. It brought my hopes down, realizing my previous assumptions weren’t as clear as I thought they were.

Time changed again though, and I found those feelings fleeting. The city is breathtaking and so is everything in it. Although I’d prefer not to live in the chaos of Michigan Ave., I’d be more than happy to spend my days walking the lakefront or visiting Old Town. A city is much more than its weekend activities. I fell in love with Chicago because it puts effort into the environment, into parks and beaches. Each time I’m in there, I find something more to love, and wonder how much else there is that I still don’t know about. It became a small part of me at a young age but grew as I did. I’ve visualized my future there, and though things may change, a part of me will always live in the Windy City.

Home is where the heart is, as many would say. It can be a physical place or a feeling. It can be a memory or the people you feel the happiest with. Home has no borders; it can be found when you feel happy, or proud, vibrant or whole. My home where I feel most alive. Where is yours?