Jane, I feel like I haven’t had a place to call home for much of this year. I lived at Hannah’s grandma’s all summer, then stayed in a new town in Tibet every night for a month, then packed a truck in my most recent home (Utah) and stopped in my old one (Texas) on the way to a new one (New York), all within a week. What is home in a world where one can uproot themselves and travel nearly 11,000 miles in a week?
While we were in Texas, Hannah and I sat under an important tree at the edge of a pond, and I had the sense of forgotten feelings washing over me; light humidity on my skin, humid haze over the water, making the ground and the green above it more vibrant, bug sounds resonating, recent rain evaporating from leaves and pavement. I realized I hadn’t sat in Texas on a summer day for four years. The humidity over the water held nearly-tangible memories with it.
The places I call home contain personal sensory experiences that my life is constructed from. It’s as if the place becomes me, or I melt into the place, and then small bits of me remain in each place when I’m not there. I forget about those parts of me (not in an ungrateful way, but as a product of temporal and spatial distance from the place) until I return and those senses remind me of where I come from. So, I think a place that reminds me who I am is home.
I also think the feeling of loss that is earned from enough time spent in a place signifies home, or one that once was. What else would produce such a pit in my chest when I woke up at my brother’s house on the day we drove away from Utah? I feel like parts of me were left behind in Utah, in Texas; but they’ll be there for me when I return to feel them again. I don’t feel that for New York yet because it’s new, but I imagine I will when it’s time to leave here, too.
I am grateful for the places I’ve been able to call home, and even more grateful for the people that have made them home.
I hope that all of you are too.