Dorothy was right, there is no place like Home. For most, when you hear the word “Home” there is a strong feeling of nostalgia attached. Family is typically the main association and with that comes a sense of familiarity, security, love, trust and care.

When I think of Home, I remember baking cookies with my mom, throwing a baseball back and forth with my dad, completing homework at the kitchen  able and playing with my siblings and neighborhood friends.

When I was in school, I could not wait for the final bell to ring that meant I could go Home. Home was always the place I could be my most authentic self. At school, I was very quiet and shy. Though I was engaged in many school activities, I kept to myself and had only a few close friends. However, once Home, I had no reservations. Home was the place I felt most comfortable. If I felt excited, I could show it. If I needed to cry, I could let it out. There was no judgement or expectation behind those walls. My family and I, shared our most raw and honest versions of ourselves.

My Home was where my heart was. I carried Home with me as I formed my individuality there.

For me, my image of Home is a happy one. For others it can be a painful. But no matter the personal experience, the expectation for a Home comprises a sense of ownership, identity and self-hood. It was not until I went away to college that I realized what Home really was for me. As a teenager I craved small freedoms and new experiences; but once I received them I began to rethink what I wanted. Transitioning to a new living accommodation – a dorm suite that lacks privacy and familiarity – was especially difficult. A wonderful and trans-formative experience for many students, college living begins when you receive the keys to your “Home” on campus: a 15 x 15 space equipped with a complete stranger. Over the next nine months, I learned to make the best of my situation and space. With a roommate, you can find either a friend or a foe in your dorm room. In my college living experiences with roommates, I found that my dorm could either be a space I wanted to be in one or one I could not be away from enough. On campus, the disconnect between ‘housing’ and ‘home’ really came into focus.

I experienced homesickness to its fullest extent during my first few years of college. “Homesick” is a term many college students are accustomed to. By definition, the word homesick describes “a longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it.” With calls home to Mom and Dad, once, twice or three times a day, I counted down the days to vacation and longed for a comfortable night’s sleep in a bed that did not feel like a nail coffin.

Over time I became used to the dorm, the space, the roommates. I learned to live within those quarters without letting it take away from my overall great college experience. Nevertheless, I never considered my college room ‘Home’ because it lacked everything that made my family’s house the place I felt most comfortable, accepted and loved. I got past dorm life and now rent an apartment of my own. And, while I do love my apartment and the space and privacy it provides, it still does not have the same warmth and comfort I was lucky enough to have growing up. I understand it is a part of life to outgrow my Home, even if my family reassures me that I am always welcome to come back. The next course in life lies in finding what makes my house feel like a Home again. I know it can never the same, but I can learn to love this new place just as much. No Home is perfect, but those small fallibilities make each Home and family unit unique. At the end of the day, I see Home nurturing positive outcomes in my physical and mental health, education, employment, and relationships.

Home Matters because it is the place where I spend most of my time outside work or school. Home matters because it is the place that allows me to be the most honest version of myself. Home is where we start from. It is where we grow and thrive. But most importantly, home matters because it is the place you can be yourself with no inhibitions, to experience and share love, and be loved just for that.

Emily Humphrey is a 2018 SUNY New Paltz graduate majoring in Sociology and recently moved to a new apartment to call Home.

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