I have been challenged to redefine the idea of “home.”
Before moving to college, Los Angeles was always home for me. It was the sunny place where I grew up for most of my life, it was where my friends were, where my family was, it was the place of familiar streets and restaurants and parks. Then I “moved away” to college. I used “moved away” rather than “went away” because the hoard of things that accompanied me up the state was meant for more than just a short stay. After our first year in the dorms, my friends and I moved into an apartment, then into another, a more homey one. We got it repainted, installed shelves with cubbies in the kitchen, and hung up posters and paintings. There was a place for everything, and I just generally liked being at home.
And for me, it did become home. Berkeley became the place where my “things” were—clothes, books, makeup and other goop that I never really used. It was the place where my jobs were, where my college friends were, it was another center with another community around which I had built my life.
Once I was talking to an old friend from Los Angeles, and I said that I’m going back home– meaning back to Berkeley. She didn’t say it at first, but she felt somewhat betrayed. She felt as if I were throwing away everything I had built up here for somewhere else. And I understood where she was coming from. But I needed her to understand that for me, “home” was not this set thing. And you can’t just chuck it away in exchange for something new. So, could you have more than one home? We had this conversation right before I left to France for the semester.
When I arrived in Bordeaux, it was anything but home. It was a new place with a new atmosphere. But with time, it grew on me, and I became part of it, just as it became as part of me. I had my room, my favorite hang-outs, my circle of friends and acquaintances, and I was speaking a new language. Just as in Berkeley, as soon as I started building a community, the place began to feel more like a home.
I guess what I’m getting at here is that it is possible to have more than one home. Los Angeles is home because that’s where my friends and family are. Berkeley is home because that’s where my college memories are. Bordeaux is home because that’s where I learned to be honest with myself.
Home and house are different words. “Home” is more abstract. It can be a feeling, it can be a place, it can be an ambiance. You can even find home in a person. My advice would be don’t tie yourself down too early, but never forget where you come from.