I’m going to Houston in about a week.
Here’s the short story: My family moved to Houston, and I still go to school in North Carolina.
Here’s the slightly longer story: Just days before school started this semester, family moved to a house I’d never seen in Houston, Texas. Instead of accompanying them to my new “home,” I slept on a comfy mattress on the floor of my best friend’s house for a few days, and then drove our little Civic, filled to the roof with the belongings necessary to facilitate learning, back to school. And at school I have remained, fully expecting to finally experience that elusive place that part of my family calls “home” only once Christmas break and the blessed end of the semester arrived. But, lo and behold, my test schedule miraculously arranged itself so as to provide a brief interlude in studying, falling directly over the duration of fall break. So, I (read: Mother dear) booked a ticket and laid my plans to go “home” to Texas for four days.
But what is “home,” anyway? Whenever I return from trips, I’m convinced that “home” is where you can raid the refrigerator with gleeful abandon or where you have a favorite bathroom and know exactly where to find the extra toilet paper. But, when I’m traveling, “home” is the most recent place where I left the contents of my suitcase strew across the corner where I’m assigned to sleep. Here at school “home” could either be Wilmington proper, our former house outside Wilmington, in Houston, in my dorm room, at my best friend’s house in Wilmington. Which is it? I haven’t a clue. And – while I’m questioning things – why do I have to pick? They say “home is where the heart is,” but what if your “heart” happens to be in multiple places?
This is strangely familiar. I think I’m drawing on the vestiges of the little short-term missionary kid I once was – the one who, for what seemed like the longest time, felt as if she’d left “home” back in Uganda when returning “home” to the US. But it’s different this go-round. I’m in a different stage of life, and not living in the same place for a year straight has become normal since I created this blog in 2011.
As it stands, I’m not too concerned. I’m getting far better at dealing with this nonsense called “change,” I think. I’m not feeling any separation anxiety for Wilmington. And I lived there for 17 years. I don’t miss Wilmington like I did Uganda. And I only lived there for two. Sure, there are people there who I’d rather not live farther than 30 minutes away from, but that’s life. Proximity to people I like doesn’t make a place home. I’m starting to think that I’m a turtle: I carry my sense of “home” along with me.
However it works, I’m rather excited to add Houston to the list of places I’ve called “home.” I figure the more places on that list there are, the better. So, save me a seat on the next plane, because likely as not, I’ll feel right “at home” once I get there.