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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: Finding the meaning of home

opmeaninghome-illo

It’s 11:54 p.m. The white brick house has become illuminated by the headlights of the massive car I haven’t sat behind in four long months.  

I always seem to arrive home from my travels at night. Maybe it just feels easier that way. I don’t have to face all the emotions and fears hidden in the dark.  

Yet, as I step out of my car, the smell of pine trees and freshly cut grass hit my nose. A smell that can’t be mistaken for anything but colorful Colorado.  

Home.  

But how do you define home? Is it fixed forever or is it a moveable concept?  

How do four walls, a few windows, community and smells all create that involuntary feeling of “I’m home?”  

Is it your grandma’s definition of “home is where the heart is,” or the memories of a childhood spent laughing and playing in the grass? Can you only have one home?  

Which is true – the Sicilian hostel in Catania that felt so safe it caused me to refer to it as home after two days, or the small yellow house I grew up in at the base of a Colorado mountain?   

I think I’ve always felt a little lost in the world, searching for a place that felt right. I left Colorado the moment I turned 18 and searched for home in a college dorm room, 11 stories up, in a little building called Forest. I looked for home in a small apartment with three roommates I still barely knew on move-in day. I looked for home in a cramped Prague apartment in the summer heat of May.  

I found it in all three.  

I found it in my mom's new house in a new city in Colorado. I found it in a tiny hostel tucked into the alleys of Sicily with an Italian boss who muttered “mamma mia” every other sentence. I found it in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, in Northern Ireland, with two other volunteers who protected each other with our life and created light in the dark.  

Is where you are, who you are?  

Home for me is a million different places in the world, my heart torn between which place to be or which version of myself to be.  

So many of my friends came back from study abroad and said, “I don’t know if I’ll ever feel the same again.”  

So many of my friends came back from college out-of-state and said, “I made a family out there, but we’ll always have us.”  

This certain feeling of homesickness no matter where you are.  

Maybe there is no answer to this. Maybe that homesickness resides deep in your stomach forever. That’s the consequence for leaving the nest and seeing the world.  

Or maybe we come to terms with all of it eventually.  

We are so lucky to feel that loss and that longing. We are lucky to have friends all across the world that make us feel safe, and small pieces of the world that hurt to reminisce about.  

How lucky we are to feel this torn because of our best memories.  

If you feel lost in the world, just like I do sometimes, embrace it. Let the memories flood through you. Reread the journal entries you wrote. Look through the photos of your trip to London or California or wherever it is that keeps pulling you back.  

Because maybe home is a feeling. Maybe we are allowed to find home in a million different corners of the world. Maybe we get to choose which version of ourselves we get to be. 

Maybe home is simply under the moon.  

Gentry Keener (she/her) is a senior studying journalism and political science.

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