when home isn't just a place

when home is all the people you've loved and will come to love

before break, when my floormates asked me when i was leaving for home, i realized that i’d felt so at home on campus that i forgot that home wasn’t just my dorm. i’d gotten used to calling it home that i had to pause for a moment and think about it.

right now i’m back at my parent’s house in belmont, california. it’s a house that has never felt like a home, for more reasons than one. i’ve been here for just about a week and it’s felt like the longest week of the year.

being here makes me feel small, because i got to start over when i left this place. and being back here feels like being shoved back into someone i used to be, using a name that isn’t mine anymore.

i’ve been thinking a lot about home lately. about what it is, where it is, or who it is. about what and how it makes me feel. i say lately, but i think i’ve been thinking about all of it for a long time now.

i wrote about it in my editor’s letter for the home issue of aspirants magazine that we released in late summer—right when about half of my friends packed their bags and left their childhood homes for college.

for the longest time, i thought home had to be confined to one physical space. but how could it be when i spent the first half of my life moving around and starting over every few years? i never felt tied to a building or a street because for the longest time i didn’t even have the time to tie myself down.

when i went to visit colleges before commitment day a part of me was just taking part in this endless search for a space to call home.

but home for me isn’t just a place. home is a feeling—in your bones, as my friend elly puts it. my home is everywhere because my heart is everywhere; spread out across the infinite cosmos. across the country, across the globe.

i know now that home is what i’ve made it; a network of friends in countless timezones and zipcodes who are just a text or a phone call away and the comfort of an extra large hoodie. i know now that home is something i can carry with me everywhere; the feeling of a hot cup of tea in the morning, writing, a guitar, watercolors. anything and everyone i have loved.

right now, i’m sitting on my bed in the bedroom i spent all my teen years in but nothing about it feels right because nothing about it has ever felt right and i am more painfully aware than ever about my lack of a physical space to call home, but finding love in the passing clouds and in the rain.

reminding myself of moments full of love shared with friends that i will be with in just two more weeks and holding onto things that remind me of them, like this song called “anchor” that i wrote in my friend em’s room. like this other song called “love is” that i wrote at about twenty minutes past midnight in my dorm as my roommate watched dancing with the stars, like the chocolates that my regional organizing director perry gave me & my fellow march for our lives california board members, and the color pencils my friends gave me on my birthday.

i am learning to be home for myself.

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