For the majority of my life, home was an old farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by grassy hills and lush forest. Then home was kind of a college dorm room, but that never quite felt permanent. During that time home was also a little house in a residential area, where the chirping of birds is as familiar as the cars rolling by on the road. Finally, home is my first apartment in Kent, where I have my own bedroom and a fully functioning kitchen. I still consider all of the other places home, but they all mean something different.
The farmhouse is childhood, years spent catching tadpoles from the pond and sled riding down giant hills. The dorm room is my leap into adulthood, learning how to function on my own for the first time. The little house is my base when I’m visiting New Phila, the place I live in the present. My apartment truly feels like adulthood, and it’s a place that I can call mine. There are other places too – my grandparents’ house that means family, New Philadelphia as a whole, which always makes me nostalgic, and Kent State, a place that has shaped me in ways that I would never have imagined.
The simple phrase “I’m going home” always sounds strange when it exits my mouth. I know what I mean – my apartment in Kent, my mom’s house in New Phila – but it doesn’t feel right to assign the term to one place. There are too many places that I appreciate for influencing my life in one way or another, and I don’t like to ignore that fact. And don’t get me started on people; there are quite a few individuals that make me feel comfortable and happy just as much as the physical places that I consider home.
I’m sitting outside right now, watching a mother bird as she tends to her babies in a birdhouse. Those tiny babies know only a tiny, dark space as their home, a space that provides all the comfort that they could need. Someday, though, they will leave the birdhouse, spread their wings, and fly. I think I’m a little bit like those birds right now. Sure, I’ve had plenty of homes already, but I’m young. I have so many more places to see and fall in love with, and I expect that many of them will become home to me as well. The nice thing about language is that words don’t have to follow their dictionary definition, and I think most people would agree that home means much more than just the place you pay for to sleep at night.