Home. Four simple letters with such incredible meaning. Home sweet home. Home on the range. Home is where the heart is. The other night, my roomie and I were talking about our holiday plans, and I stressed the importance of going home. He gestured to our apartment smiling and said, “This is home!”
“This,” I spit out, “is not home.”
Immediately we were both taken aback, him crestfallen and me embarrassed by my outburst. I spent the rest of that night thinking about what I’d said. Why was, in my mind, NH still my home, even now when I’ve severed all educational, physical, and financial ties there?
I can trace this feeling of wanting one defined home back to college, when I moved in and out of different res hall rooms no fewer than 14 times, not counting when I moved in and out of my parents’ house during the summers. Not surprisingly, I grew tired not only of moving, but even decorating each new space. Freshman year, my room had pictures of friends, posters, sombreros, etc. gracing the walls. By senior year, I was down to a couple photos of loved ones on my desk. I was just going to move in a few months, why bother? Besides, this wasn’t home; home was back in NH with my folks.
The night I refused to grant our apartment “home” status, I wondered why I was still clinging to New England. Sure, I’ve got some stuff at my parents’ place, but I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that I’ll never have the chance to live there full time again. But am I so irrevocably tied there by my loved ones that I’ll never be able to think of anywhere else as home?
It’s a messy feeling, this belief that you are meant to be somewhere other than where you physically are, especially if you’re starting to like this new place. I almost feel like a traitor. So I turned this question over to my friend, a fellow east coast transplant in L.A.: is there one place and one place only you call home?
Nope, she said. When we lived in Boston, she called Boston her home. New Jersey (where she’s from) will always be home too. And now, LA has become home number three.
Thus, I propose a new definition, one that doesn’t restrict home to where one’s roots lie. It might take some getting used to, but L.A. is home now. It’s where I live, love, work, eat, sleep, breathe, and explore. By not accepting it as my semi-permanent residence, I’ve done myself a great disservice. I can love and miss NH as much as I please, but I can also love L.A. without killing myself over wondering when and if I’ll ever want or have to return to the east coast.
“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
And to celebrate, I finally hung some art.