Coming home from college for the first time can be a little odd. You may find yourself walking through your house as if it were a museum, thinking to yourself that’s where I used to sleep, my sheets untouched for months…there’s that bottle of shampoo I used last summer–still in the same place… If you’re like me, you’ve counted down the days of the last two weeks until you could be home, taking this tour of your life that was put on hold while you went away to college. But even if you aren’t crazy about the idea of coming home for winter break, you’ve gotta admit that there’s something wonderful yet eerie about being back at home.
The first time I came back home for break it was strange seeing dust on all the things I used to use every day! The most surprising part of coming home is that usually nothing has changed, whether it’s the furniture or the humans inhabiting your house, they are usually just as you left them. Your mom still makes you hot chocolate in the morning and forces you to fold your laundry, the toilet in your bathroom is full of the same water it was in August….Well, maybe you don’t think of those sorts of things like I do, but the point is that life goes on at home just the same without you, and you may have mixed reactions to this. On the one hand it may be a relief to find everything intact and in place as you left it, and it can be comforting to know that your family is still just as crazy and obnoxious and loving as when you left them. But on the other hand, you may feel like you’ve changed a lot in your first semester at college, but your home is exactly the same. Maybe you expected something different, or you feel like your expectations haven’t been met; you might feel like you’ve outgrown your home, which can be a traumatizing thought! So you might ask, Is this really my home still? After all, you don’t live here most of the year. You spend the majority of the year sleeping in a different bed and sitting in a different desk chair. So what makes this yours? You may own it, but you don’t use it, you’re not attached to it in the same way.
This is the situation I found myself in once I came home. It lead me to wonder, What makes a home a home? As far as I can figure, its a feeling. The things in your house, and even the house itself, will age, fall out of use, rust, break, tear, et cetera. You may feel very attached to these things and feel that you can’t separate being home from the place and the things themselves. But I’ve found that if you begin to accept that home is a feeling more than it is a place, you will be able to find that warm, cozy at-home feeling no matter what your house looks like. After I returned to college after going home for Christmas, I told my grandma how strange it felt coming home; like it wasn’t really my home and I wasn’t sure whether I had wanted it to change or had wanted to find it was exactly the same. She told me something that I doubt I’ll ever forget, and something that I think about every time I miss home or go home for the holidays. She told me that my home will inevitably change. It may be as small as a new color of paint on the walls, or as big as an entirely new house because your family had to move to a smaller place. You may feel lost or sad at first, but the fortunate truth is that home is something deeper, and something that exists inside you–something that you build within yourself and carry wherever you go. As they say, home is where the heart is. It seems to me that home is within the heart. For me, its a feeling of being in love with where I am, both physically and mentally. And as my grandma says, you’ll have many more houses in your life, but it’s you that brings the feeling of home. So whatever brings you that feeling during your break from school, savor it. As for me, I am about to savor having no homework and being able to live in my sweatpants for a few weeks. Happy holidays indeed!