A distinctive place floats about in the mind, in both dream and truth. A place that seems quite distant, yet remains in arm’s reach. It is a place of permanence, yet also of temporariness; a place of revitalization, yet, too, of exhaustion. Perhaps, it is a place for which only the heart can yearn; for its embrace resembles the warmth of a father’s arms or a mother’s baking. It surpasses the calming crashes of waves to a shore or the invigorating noise of honks and horns, and instead, replaces it with the soft whistle of the humble vireo through the vibrant copse, or, in the winter, the crunch of snow beneath warm winter boots. It is Home.
Home is hidden from interstate sixty-six by dense masses of trees. She dresses herself in modest shrubbery and salmon-colored brick and surrounds herself with tall oaks that blow their seeds upon her. Her hair is the deep gray slated roof, upon which birds peck. Her windows across the front are her eyes, while the shutters are her eyelids, embellished with moss green eyeshadow, although she rarely blinks. Her nose is the front door that swings wide to usher in fresh air, and to take away the garbage. Her mouth is the garage doors, for she smiles upon the arrival of her inhabitants and frowns at their departure. Her brain is found the reading room, where she is crammed with books of overwhelming knowledge. Her heart is the powerful furnace; it beats at every minute, providing warmth and power to the entire household. And, her lungs are the entire main level, where most life is found. She takes different forms. She can morph herself into a cluster of rust-red brick office buildings, in which there is a dance studio. The double doors at the entrance are welcoming arms whose purpose is to invite customers inside. In this form, Home is a delightful trio of marley-floored studios, where pointe shoes gracefully glide across the floor. This Home is cluster of nervous ballerinas awaiting casting for The Nutcracker or one of the various ballets featured in the Spring Concert, a moment in time that causes brutal tension between the talented and the jealous. Among such places is where I am found.
I am Columbus sailing across the blue sapphire sea. Within a province so prosaic, I have discovered passion; Home: an astonishing, living scrapbook of memories, desirable and adverse alike. Such fragile memories bring about the deepest sentiments. Home: a portmanteau loaded with illustrations to bring about tears of joy and smiles of remembrance. What is more, is within these memories are a new definition of self; a solution to the age-old question of “Who am I?” Yet, how unfortunate it is that, until she is parted with, Home is taken for granted, and is not loved; cherished?
Guilt blankets my heart and mind, for I, often, did not appreciate the comfort, peace, and security found in Home. Whilst in immaturity, Home was rarely missed. Home was not sought after and desired. Home was not special, not interesting, not exciting. Home was not fresh; only an abyss of nullity, of nothingness. I felt naught. It was not until the reality of university neared that I exhumed what I could not see: what Home is.
The realization hit me two days before move-in day—home would soon be eighty-five miles away. In replacement of Home, I would, soon, call Wayland Hall, my dormitory, my place of residence. No longer would I enjoy weekdays filled with challenging ballet classes and exhaustive rehearsals. No longer would I be close to all of the relationships that I built, both at school and at dance. No more would my feet walk up the tinted concrete driveway and up the brick pathway. No more would they walk briskly upon the wooden floors to disarm the alarm upon entrance into Home, ascend the steps, and sink into the natural-colored carpet in my room. No longer would I taste mom’s “lazy but delicious” cooking. No more would my Saturdays begin with yet another search for the best formula for the fluffiest pancakes. I would no longer descend to the basement for my daily exercise. No more would I feel the hot water pouring from the rain showerhead upon my worn body each day. At the close of my day, no longer would I lie in my honey maple sleigh bed and generate sweet dreams; soft, uninterrupted sleep, absent of arbitrary screams and drunken laughter. No longer would I wake to the natural sunlight flooding into my bedroom through the two large windows. I would now live in a place roughly half the size of my room, where there are no parents, no rules, no structure, no silence, no solitude; only pure chaos. Tears began to drip from my eyes.
I hear my mother tidying the kitchen and, distraught, I convene my emotions and descend the stairs.
“Good morning,” my mother says.
Good morning: Two words—a timeless phrase—of good fortune that can brighten the sullenest of days; two words that are spoken for politeness, but surpass those parameters; two words that exemplify insurmountable love and affection; two words that I would not hear from my mother every morning.
Tears return to my eyes as I turn away to hide my face. Immediately, my mom senses something different about my attitude.
“What’s wrong?” she asks. “Why are you crying?”
“Nothing,” I reply.
I attempt to plaster a fake smile upon my face, but my mother’s intuition is too resilient. She approaches me and wraps her arms around me, and, unable to resist the comfort she offers, I burst into hysteria.
“I’m going to miss home. I don’t want to go,” I say, through shortened breaths and stifled sobs.
“You will be severely missed,” my mother tells me as she holds me, in an attempt to calm me. “Don’t think of college as leaving—think of it as going on an adventure.”
“Okay,” I say, almost inaudibly. My sobs subside into soft crying, but I continue to hug my mom—I did not want to let go. Letting go meant, to me, saying goodbye; leaving behind all of the wonderful, but previously unacknowledged features of home, and the chief of such qualities of home: family.
I hear my father leave the desk in his office and walk toward the kitchen.
“What’s going on, Bean?” he asks me.
I reiterate my sentiments to my father, struggling to choke back my tears. Another word filled with meaning: Bean; my nickname. I would not hear someone call me by that name for several weeks at a time.
“You shouldn’t be upset about that. You know that we will miss you, too, and we are just a call away,” he says.
“I know,” I said softly.
“And it isn’t like you are far away—you can come home whenever you’d like,” he adds. “But it’s fine if you miss home.”
However, despite endeavoring to understand the loving words from my parents, I remained in a state of despondency, as if a hole was growing in my heart; a missing piece that contained all the pleasure of being at home. I, surely, struggled with my father’s last sentence: that it was fine to miss home. My sisters never seemed upset to leave home, so, evidently, it could not be “fine” to miss home.
For the subsequent couple of days, I attempted to ignore the gloom within my heart and focus on my future. I reflected on all I detested about home, much to no avail, and the hole continued to grow and it spread to different chambers.
I let the holes widen and multiply as I traveled down the interstate; toward my new school, and as I moved into my dormitory, and as I prayed with my parents, and as I waved to them goodbye, and it wounded me greatly. Through the entirety of the 1787 Orientation—at each moment in which I was parted from my parents—my unacknowledged homesickness grew like a parasite, feeding off of my energy and my stability. I hid my slump from my hall mates and from my friends.
I was like a water balloon filled with air; ready to pop. For days, I held in my anguish and my starvation for home, and each day, a few puffs of air were blown into me. After retaining all of these emotions, I finally burst. I called my sister, ERYN, over FaceTime, in tears.
“ERYN, I miss being at home,” I said, as tears rolled down my cheeks like a rushing river. “I miss being with my family.”
“Don’t cry, Samantha,” ERYN told me. “You’re going to be just fine. We’ve spent a lot of good moments together, but cherish and appreciate those. Everyone handles going to college differently. I enjoyed it, but you don’t. Maybe that’s a good thing.”
Hearing her words sunk deeply into me, and they began repairing the wounds that I had self-inflicted into my heart. Over the weeks, I began to comprehend the words my parents served me before I ventured out to college; that I should never be ashamed of possessing a strong connection to home and the people within it.
Home has planted, in me, an appreciation for all that I cherish, and she has brought me closer to those things. I appreciate peace and quiet; the ability to be alone. I appreciate my mother’s cooking, that which I have raised my nose into the air against several times in the past. I heavily appreciate my father’s cleaning that makes the bathroom smell like bleach and lemons and the floor of my room clear of hair and the fuzz from my socks. I have appreciation my oldest sister, Reyna, for being the finest big sister a child could ask for, regardless of our dark past filled with passive and aggressive arguments alike. I have even more appreciation for my sister and, now, best friend, ERYN, whom I have severely disrespected countless numbers of times in the past but whom has forgiven me a million times over.
Home has cultivated me into a young lady that sees parents, peace, and rules as something precious, because, separate from what I believed to be true in the past, these people and things are privileges, not rights. It has transformed a phrase like “mom and dad” from being worthy of disrespect to being worthy of honor; of gratitude.
Gratitude—what a fine word that is; meaning gratefulness or thankfulness. Home has offered me gratitude towards my sisters; a desire to make them proud, and to speak with them, and to love them. She has given me gratitude towards my mother and father, for they are truly a gift from God, and He has, also, given me Home and the countless blessings within and around it.
And He has promised me a truly permanent home with Him, where I will, forever, be with all who I love.
A distinctive place floats about in the mind, most heavily in dream. A place that is not distant—it is within arm’s reach. It is temporary, yet excessively sufficient; a place of humbling blessings. It is a place for which only the heart can yearn; for its embrace resembles the warmth of the Heavenly Father’s arms, whose hands offer the most amazing of gifts. It annihilates all fears and apprehensions, and instead, substitutes it with serenity and comfort. It is a place that can be carried within the heart. I am, finally and always, Home.