Home. It’s a four letter word but what is it really? According to Webster it is a familiar or usual setting; a place where one lives, but I don’t think that is true. These past three years I have had the opportunity of experiencing life on the road, living in both Rocky Mount and Wilmington. In the beginning Rocky Mount was my home base. It’s where I returned to every weekend. It was home. After a while that place switched to Wilmington. I began to realize that I could tell you everything that was going on in Wilmington but I did not know a thing that was happening in Rocky Mount. That was when Wilmington became home. Over the course of the next few semesters and up until now, I have gone back and forth between Rocky Mount and Wilmington so much, spending very little time at both places during each trip that neither place feels like home anymore. Highway 40 feels more like home than either of those places right now. It’s like I’m lost out in space; there is no real place where I belong.
Some people say home is where you grew up. That makes sense but where is that? Is it that little house where I grew up running down the hall singing Hit Me Baby One More Time at the top of my lungs.; the one with the big back yard where I spent my days, swimming, playing basketball, and riding golf carts? That’s where I was raised but it’s not where I grew up. I don’t think we grow up in one place, I think we grow up in several different places through several different experiences that come together to make us into the person we are. Like graduation day in that old high school gym, looking around and realizing that I would never see any of those people again. Or in that Nash Community College classroom the first time I felt my heart break. And at Nash general watching my aunt waste away in that hospital room. Even my first semester at UNC-Wilmington all alone for the first time in a big, unfamiliar city wishing I could run home to mama’s loving arms and daddy’s cooking. Those are all places and experiences where a part of me grew up. But then that Sunday, standing in the kitchen of the house where I was raised, screaming and crying as someone very close to me died right there in front of me, THAT is where I grew up. Home is a comfortable and safe place to run to when you feel lost and scared. It is not where I grew up.
Other people say home is where the heart is. I have always believed this to be true but where is that even? Is it where mom and dad are? Is it in the arms of my amazing boyfriend? Is it up in Heaven with God and all of the loved ones that I’ve lost? Or is it on the coast of somewhere beautiful? Because a piece of my heart is in all of these places. If home really is where the heart is, then I’m definitely out of place.
I don’t know where home is or even if it’s a place at all. Maybe it’s just some fantasy land we visit in our dreams, or maybe it’s just a collection of memories that we go back to every now and then, or maybe it’s what we see when we close our eyes. I don’t know. All I know is I’ve never been more homesick than now.