4 Dec

In the movie Garden State, the main character Andrew Largeman says that maybe family is just a group of people who miss the same imaginary place, the place we call home. One day you just wake up and realize that the place where you spent your childhood isn’t your home anymore. And maybe for some people, home goes away after a while. It’s something that was and isn’t anymore.

When I saw that movie for the first time, I wondered if home ever existed for me. I’ve lived in eight different houses or apartments in my life, all within the same city. Some I liked and some I didn’t. There are good things and bad things about all of them. There are things that I miss about all of them. There are memories of course, and just like the houses themselves, some memories are better than others. But none of them were ‘home’.

The word ‘home’ was never something that I needed. I sort of liked the not having a home. I liked being free of that; moving forward at every turn and chosing to look back occasionally, but only in a reasonable and detached way. These were houses, and houses would come and go. It made me feel resilient and mature, as if I could leave anywhere at a moment’s notice.

I went to Europe for the first time a few years ago. It was scary and strange and terrifying. I wanted to see all these things that I had never seen before, and I wanted to learn about worldly things. I wanted to be cultured and classy and brave. But I also wanted to go home. I wanted my house. I wanted my four walls that I’d made just the way I wanted them; the chalkboard paint and the picture collage. I wanted my dark blue ceiling with the glow in the dark stars.

Even more, though, I wanted the farmers market on Saturday mornings, and I wanted the bike path, and the Giant Eagle, and the antique shops, and the library. When I got home I saw my chalkboard paint wall. My friends had covered the whole thing in drawings of pictures, inside-jokes and song lyrics. And I cried and cried, and fell asleep in my bed with the glow-in the dark stars overhead. Home is where the heart is.

Three months later, we moved from that house. The chalkboard-paint wall was gone, and the collage and the splatter-paint and the stars, but I didn’t lose home.

Now I’m just as much at home as ever. I walked down the bike path this weekend and thought of all the times I’ve walked on that path, and all the different people who I’ve walked on it with. Home has become this city. It’s all of its ins and outs. Its quirks. Home is the memories that I know will come back to me when I see the community market, or the bridge over the ravine, or the loop on the bike path where I used to run.

Some day I plan on going far away, and living somewhere new. It feels important to see if I still want to be the same person when all the things around me are different. Sometimes I think that I push change away even though it’s what I need the most. So I’ll probably do what I think I should. I’ll move to the west coast, or the east coast, or maybe just be an exchange student for a semester, and who knows if I’ll even come back?

But even if I leave forever, and never come back except for visits and vacations, I’ll know that somewhere out there is the city where I grew up. I’ll know that there are people who can miss me. People who made me who I am. Places that are still there. No matter where I go, I’ll know that this is home.


2 Responses to “Home”

  1. isabrown7 December 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    if you left, i would miss you

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