“Home: the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.”
I don’t know what home is anymore. I know that a house is a building made of walls and rooms with beds and showers and sinks and an oven, with a yard for kids to play in or to grow flowers in. I know it’s a place you can decorate with your favorite colors, and you can paint the walls to your liking, cook and bake whatever you desire and invite your favorite people over for a good time.
But that’s not always what home is.
Home is where you feel free, you can breathe, you’re safe, you’re at ease … it’s where you feel at home.
And I haven’t felt properly “at home” since late last year (2016) or early this year (2017). When I was sitting on my bunk bed, fairy lights twinkling, socks on my feet, snow outside, eating rice with just about every meal, and trudging down six flights of stairs for eggs and bread.
Because there I could walk around wearing a t-shirt and leggings all day with a makeup free face and even if I left the apartment no one would think twice about it.
If I decided to do a full face of makeup and dress up, and have my brother take pictures of me in front of a few walls, no one would think twice.
There I could hop on a train for under 50 cents and go as far as the tracks would carry me.
Here, at this place so many people call my home, I’m working on learning to drive. I’ve passed one test, and am currently attempting to practice and study for the next, so I can get a car and drive as far as my gas money allows me.
I’m looking into getting a job. So that I’ll have gas money. And money in general. Food and Christmas presents, and clothes, and just about everything costs money.
I haven’t really written at all. I haven’t dressed up and painted my lips a dark color or asked a sibling to take pictures of me because it’s too hot and people would definitely think twice. And look twice…probably more than twice.
This city that contains so many people I know and love, stores I know like the back of my hand, streets that remind me of certain days, foods I know and love, libraries that have supplied me with enough books to last me until I’m old and grey, and about 16 years of my life.
But it’s not my home.
It was my home.
But it’s not anymore.
I can’t explain it really, it’s just not home.
I’ve been somewhere new. Somewhere that I refused to like at the start, but a place that I now miss when it’s warm out, or when I just want to sit on a horrid looking purple couch with an ice cream bar in hand while we watch a movie we’ve already seen 4 times but we don’t mind watching again.
A place where our favorite dinner took 4 hours to make, but as annoying as it was we always got laughs out of it, and it was always worth it, and always tasted better than the last time.
Nights were full of card games and catch ups, stories to tell, and jokes that made us all groan but chuckle. Sometimes friends were a part, and the laughter would be never-ending, and the jokes about our lives in this city we now called home got funnier with each telling.
A place that we talked about leaving, and how we wouldn’t miss it and it’s long trek through streets and up stairs while inhaling smoky air, how we wouldn’t miss the smells of fish being cooked in the morning, or the people spitting on the streets, or the lack of our favorite foods from home. Our other home.
And yet, though we talked about wanting to leave, wanting to wave and never come back, we still breathed a sigh of relief every time we did. We happily rolled our suitcases back into our rooms, cut open boxes of clothes and foods and items from home to make this home more like home. We lit a candle and settled back into a routine that whether we knew it or not, we had missed.
Now I sit on another bed. One that I get to call mine for however long we’re here. One that has my quilt folded on the end, my phone charging on the table beside it, and stack of books, candle, succulent, and sleep spray just an arms’ reach away. My clothes hang in a closet with a wood door rather than lying in a closet made of fabric and poles, and my belongings are in drawers rather than cardboard boxes.
We don’t wake up to the smell of fish, but the smell of coffee and breakfast. We have stores full of our favorite foods just minutes away, without having to walk through busy streets or polluted air to get to them.
We laugh about stupid things, silly things, made up stories that we create over the dinner table, laughing until we’re crying at things no one else would find funny most likely.
Nights are spent playing card games, board games, watching movies, eating ice cream in bowls, and drinking tea until we’re all too tired to stay awake.
And for now, every night is spent with friends. Friends who are now like family. We spend our nights with them laughing about life, creating inside jokes, and oh so many lovely memories.
So as you can see, both are home. Both are good.
Both are houses.
Both are homes.
It’s not that this house doesn’t feel like home, it’s lovely to come back to this, to call this my home, my bed, and my window view, and to live my days here for now.
But it’s not my permanent home.
The closest I’ve been to a permanent home in a while is our apartment in a city of 7 million.
While the home I have now is in a house we’re living in with the loveliest, funniest, and most welcoming couple that have quickly become family, in a city of 151 thousand.
I’m happy to be here. I truly am.
And sometimes I’m sad I’m not there. Something I never thought I would say.
I’m excited to see where will be the next home. The next adventure, even if it’s only for a handful of weeks or months.
Because as much of a home as this city is, it really doesn’t feel like the last one. And part of me hopes it’s not the last.
I think I’ve just learned that a home doesn’t have to be permanent. It can be temporary. And when you look at it from that perspective, then you can look back and think of all the homes we’ve had. All of them so far have been temporary, some of them we just stayed in longer than others.