Truth - Life is a series of adjustments. We go through life taking things as they come and learning how to deal with them. Situations are fleeting, our surroundings change, and people come and go. The older we get, the bigger those changes can seem at times. We come to these realizations and have to take the time to process the information we're given and act as we see fit. Some things hit us harder than others and occasionally our epiphanies are delayed. Growing up is hard, and it never ends. Ready to go home?

"Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You'll find what you need to furnish it - memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey." Tad Williams

I don't know about you but when I left home to head off to college I don't think I properly said goodbye - to my bedroom, my house, and most prominently my childhood. I didn't realize the significance of packing up my stuff and departing for that new phase in my life. In fact, I still think of college as this four year adventure I went on but I never felt at home there. I knew it was temporary. I never felt rooted there like I do when I am at the place where I grew up. I had simply gone away for school, just for extended periods of time, but always to return home. Then I started grad school and moved into my own apartment. Again I knew this was not my home so at first I was skimpy on buying things to furnish and decorate. This place was just an ephemeral placeholder and nothing more than the place I slept, ate, and showered. I didn't feel any sense of connection to it. Maybe I never wanted to or couldn't because that would mean that I was actually leaving home - this time for real.

Then I realized that I would never live at home again. Home is now a place I visit on occasion, usually at holidays, for a few days at a time. My home that I once knew no longer exists. I have grown too much; I have changed, and it can no longer contain me. I know too much; I've experienced life outside its safety. I've lived. I think I will always long to return there but I know now that home is not a place but an idea - an idea that is outdated. I know it because just like the warmth, love, and comfort I feel there so comes the insecurity, doubt, and immaturity. I revert to my younger self and suddenly I'm a kid again - precocious, pouty, and pompous. I all but lose my ability to speak. I'm getting better though, renegotiating my relationship with my parents is an ongoing process but we're on our way. I may be their child but I am also my own person with unique beliefs, feelings, and opinions. The same goes even more so for my siblings. How do we retain our childhood bond but validate our adulthood? How do we respect each other for who we were and who we are now? I think it's our love that will help us adjust.

Home has to be where I choose to make it. That means committing and be willing to establish myself wherever I am. It's no longer living out of suitcases, boxes, and bags and constantly looking forward to the next location. It's making the most of where I am for so long as I am there. It's being present. It's engaging with those around me for authentic relationships. It's valuing people for who they are and not treating them as fleeting memories in a chapter of my life story. Making memories is as simple as doing just that. The attitude I carry with me will make all the difference. Remaining closed off stifles potential relationships and is the not the kind of person I want others to see me as. If I never let myself be free, be whole, be me then I'm not only depriving the others the opportunity to get to know me but I am also hurting myself in the process. Home is just a place it's about where you live. By live I mean how do you live with a rich vivaciousness, passion for community, and grounded sense of reality. How do you come alive. Home is the environment that you move through, get messy with, and break in. It's a pair of faded jeans, scraped up from tough times, splotched with mud from adventures, and all around comfortable because you lived in them.

How do you make yourself at home? I'm still figuring this one out myself but I think it starts with getting involved. It's putting yourself out there and making an effort to connect with people, places, and things around you. It's introducing yourself to your neighbors, hanging out with co-workers outside of work, finding a sustainable volunteer commitment, shopping small businesses, joining an intramural league, frequenting the library, etc. Whatever you are passionate about, it's doing that but with other people. Pick up a newspaper, check out the community happenings, and participate. I know I have this irrational fear of being alone in public but that's part of being an adult. It's funny because it's something I literally do all the time - clothes shopping, pumping gas, or picking up takeout. All I have to do is find some commonality - usually some obscure pop culture reference and that's my way in to any conversation. From there it's just being me. Sometimes we find our home where we least expect it. I can be at home anywhere. X


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