When Home Is No Longer A Place

It’s been almost four months since I have resided within the four walls I called “home” for the past five or so years. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been doing quite the lot of traveling: visiting Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Texas all within a period of about four months. I’ve been in Texas for close to eight weeks now, which has certainly been an eye-opening, positive change of scenery. I’ve met a lot of great people during my time in Texas, ranging from outgoing hairdressers, inspiring and enlightening mentors, and comedic dinner party hosts. It’s been what one could call a rodeo, to say the least.

In the past four months, I’ve experienced bouts of homesickness. In the beginning stages of my traveling–when I was in Colorado–I noticed that when I had thoughts of home, I missed the four walls that were the construct of my home. I missed the familiarity of home: What it looked like, where it was located, and having my own space in the house. As weeks passed by, my feelings of homesickness dwindled. I was getting more accustomed to the vibes of Colorado, taking in the refreshing mountain scenery, the crisp air, and the radiant beams of sunshine. I liked Colorado, and even entertained the idea of moving out here permanently once I graduated from college. Once I decided to relocate to Texas, the feelings of homesickness resurfaced, and I found myself in the same mindset I had in the very beginning of my journey: Missing the physical house itself. Yes, I missed my family, my boyfriend, my friends, my sisterhood, and my cat. But when I thought of home, I associated my longing for home with the desire to be within the comfort of my house’s four walls.

As the weeks progressed, Texas had the similar effect on me that Colorado did. I was getting into the swing of doings things a bit differently, one day at a time, as I learned to live life Dallas-style. I remember my first week in Texas, being upset that the temperature was very warm (compared to Colorado), which isn’t a surprise given that I’m a true northerner at heart who adores cool, crisp air and rainy days. In January, I packed my suitcase preparing for cool, Colorado weather, so I wasn’t necessarily equipped for Texas’s warm climate. Who would’ve thought that warm weather would make me feel even more homesick? But still, I was longing for the physical home. As I got adjusted to living in Texas, again, that feeling of homesickness waxed and waned. I kept in touch with family and friends from home on a daily basis, which helped me greatly. I began missing people more, ultimately missing my life back home in Pennsylvania.

It wasn’t until a month had passed living in Texas that I began to feel a different degree of homesickness; I began missing more than just the four walls that made up my house. I began to miss the familiar scent of home, a warm amalgam of clean, fresh laundry and whatever Bath & Body Works Wallflower scent that my mother chose to plug into the outlet in our kitchen. I began to miss the way my cat would welcome me home with his squinty you-woke-me-up eyes, grazing my leg after an afternoon spent out running errands. I began to miss the feeling of warm, eager butterflies that would arise in my stomach when I would see my boyfriend’s Buick Century pull into my driveway on a calm Saturday afternoon. I began to miss the comforting feeling of watching raindrops dance across the living room window during a thunderstorm, while curled up with a  blanket and a good book. I began to miss the feeling of cocoon-ing myself in my softest blankets as I snuggled up in bed at night, trying to get warm. I began to miss the feeling of my mother’s hugs (even when she knew I didn’t particularly want one, they were still one of the best feelings, and I hope she knows that). I began to miss the feeling of appreciation and love I that would wash over me when I visited my grandmother, sitting and reading magazines with her. I began to miss the engaging conversations I would have with my father and stepmother–usually something about politics, work, or school–over a dinner meal together. I began to miss the annoying clicking sound that the living room fan would make when it was switched on. I began to miss the feeling of excitement I would get when I’d retreat to my bedroom with a brand new candle, setting it aflame and allowing its aroma permeate every inch of my space. I began to miss the simple task of punching in the code to open the garage door after returning home from an exhilarating, stress relieving run around the neighborhood. I began to miss the sound of others’ laughter  that filled those four walls over the past few years. I began to miss the fond memories created within the house’s four walls. I began to miss the feelings that home provided; the feelings that I associated with home. This was when I made a stark realization: Home was no longer a place–home was a feeling.

Today, I am still homesick. With each passing day, the homesickness feels greater and greater. But I no longer miss my house–I miss the people, the memories, and the feelings I associate the word “home” with. Traveling has brought a lot of light, insight, wisdom, and independence into my life, and I don’t at all regret embarking on this journey toward self-discovery. There was a time where home was more harmful than helpful, and I had to take the step to distance myself from that environment. But as I’ve grown over the past four months, I have acquired the skills necessary to reintegrate into my home life again–skills I wouldn’t have been able to learn had I not given myself some room to grow as a young woman. It took being halfway across the country for me to realize what the definition of home really is…and it had nothing to do with the its walls, its size, its location, or its price.

As my time in Texas comes to an end, my longing for home continues to extend beyond the physical home. I long for the creation of new memories, new laughs, and new feelings. I long for nighttime snuggles with my cat, improved communication on my behalf with my family and friends, warm blankets, gentle kisses from my boyfriend, lighting new candles, and making plans with friends. I long for creating new routines, habits, and practices in the space I call home. I’m excited to return home, but I won’t be returning home as the same girl that I was four months ago: Scared, apprehensive, dependent, and conflicted with a dark outlook on her life. I will be returning home with a new outlook on my life, new skills, new aspirations, and healthier practices to integrate into my home environment. It will be an adjustment, and it will take time, but knowing that I will be able to feel all of the feelings that home provides in a healthier, more effective manner makes the wait all the more worth it.

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