Monday, November 19, 2007

Where the ____ is?

Can home not refer to more than a plaque with five numbers?

I had a few topics that I'd been dying to write about all weekend, including adoption, the complexities of the human personality, and the beauty of life's unpredictability (maybe I'll get to them), but all I can think about is how good it feels to be back in my apartment. I felt relaxed the moment I stepped through the door with my overstuffed backpack and laundry hamper full of newly-dirtied clothes. There's just something to be said about having your own space to be. I have four different papers to write, a test tomorrow to study for, and notes of missed classes to find. Yet, somehow, it all seems more manageable than it did 300 miles earlier. Here, in this room, I'm invincible.

Strange thing is that I loved my visit home. I left my university Thursday night after my last class was done and was planning on returning early enough this morning that I would be able to make all of my appointments. However, that plan of action had me waking at 5:00 AM for a 4.5 hour drive through the fog, so I postponed my return until later today and arrived just late enough to miss my last engagement. In short, my weekend was filled with an 6 week old nephew, 17 month old cousin, two aunts' new puppies, and delicious food. The weekend over all gets an A+, even including the drive.

As I entered the city limits of my current residence, I picked up the phone to make the traditional, complimentary "I've made it safely" call to my mother. And then I made the awkward mistake of saying, "I've made it home safely." Nothing was said, and she probably didn't care, but the slip had me thinking about what I actually consider to be home. The way "home" is used it seems to refer to a singular place. But maybe that's the problem; we tend to think of home as a physical place with an address and a porch swing.

I often refer to home while at college meaning where I grew up and vice versa. Certainly they can both be my homes. Maybe home is where you feel drawn to. It's more difficult for me to feel a longing for my apartment when I'm just across campus compared to the serenity it seems to offer while I'm surrounded by an exhausting, but loving, family. I think it's pefectly fine for the idea of home to be more fluid; ebbing and flowing flowing with my own location. Now, sitting in this chair, in this room, in this apartment, in this town, I'm content. I'm home... for now.

One of my favorite movies, Garden State, has a wonderful quote about home:

Andrew: You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some place where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone.

Sam: I still feel at home in my house.

Andrew: You'll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day one day and it's just gone. And you can never get it back. It's like you get homesick for a place that doesn't exist. I mean it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.

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