home is where you feel loved –
it’s about getting home and realizing where it is and not getting there specifically but still driving all the same and the journey is knowing I might not end up there but somewhere instead where I have the feeling of being home anyway (journal entry/ 2013)
In June, my little sister visited me in St. Louis. She was my first visitor in the Midwest and a needed dose of family. After she left, I was so homesick, I could not tolerate anything around me, not the dirty city streets, not the people, not even my classes. The taste went out of everything.
So I called my friends, drove to Kansas City, got on a train to Chicago, decorated my apartment, went out to the park, and found new bars. Eventually the city I live in felt lovable again.
This week, I am back in North Carolina for the first time (for more than 36 hours) in 2 years. Whenever I touchdown in this state, I feel the build up release with an overwhelming sense of relief and tears. Everything is familiar again. I recognize people and belong. While it’s not where I want to live, it’s where a part of me stays. It’s nice to be home.
It’s often that I wonder what home means. Since I left Paris, I have been trying to go back, feeling there’s a way I felt there that I’ve never felt anywhere else. Is that home? The friends I met after my semester abroad called me “Paris” for a while. I forgot I had another name. The streets and I had a long relationship of walks along the Seine and nights at Montmartre. My friends abroad would scold me for all the walking I did at night. No matter the temperature or neighborhood, I would head out my door and walk with the city, feel cradled there. Paris and I met when I was seventeen. When I got there, I felt like I had finally found the roots I wandered so far around the world looking for. Settled.
Family, Paris, a hometown. I vaguely wonder what it would feel like to have a clear-cut sense of being still. In the Midwest, I meet a lot of people who have never left the heart of the country, sometimes not even Missouri, unless they wandered over to Illinois or Kansas by accident. I don’t envy them but I also don’t judge them for never leaving—if home is where you feel loved and you’ve found it, isn’t that the ultimate reason to stay somewhere? I hope I’ll end up living and working in Europe one day soon, but I often am struck with the idea that I could be anywhere and it wouldn’t matter as long as it feels as it’s supposed to.