I never thought I would have to ask myself the question of "where is home?", but here I am.
I was lucky enough to live in the same place for 22 years, unless you count living in my dorm room for half the year during college. Which, I guess I kind of do. It's my only experience not living in the same house I grew up in. People talk to me about moving houses, schools, or states and I can't fathom it. How do you do it? I could barely make friends the first time around, how did you do it every time you had to move?
Now, I live in Georgia. In my first house. Without my parents.
It's a strange concept. And if I hadn't gone away to college, it probably would've been a lot worse for me. So, thank you D&E.
But, now I feel...more lost than I used to. When someone would ask me where I lived, it was always Ripley, WV. Born and raised. But, on the playground was not where I spent most of my days. I was always outside, climbing trees, in our pool, raising farm animals, and a bunch of other West Virginia things. Now, I don't even have a yard of my own.
It's been six months since we moved in and, as you can guess, people ask me where I live and I now say Augusta or Martinez Georgia. People ask me how I'm liking it here and my insides squeeze up and my mouth goes dry. How do I like it here? Heck if I know. It took me a month to stop having panic attacks about living here. I'm actually afraid to visit home because, what if I don't want to come back?
I like Georgia, don't get me wrong. But, it's also warm all the time. Winter was non-existent. After four years in Elkins, West Virginia with below freezing wind chills and winters with snow over my head, a 50 degree winter was like a sauna. After being here for six months, I now feel like 50 degrees is the tundra. It's maddening! What has happened to me?!
Georgia is also a lot busier than pretty much anywhere I've ever been to in WV before. There's traffic. Like, always. But, there's a mall less than 20 minutes away and now it only takes me about five minutes to get to Walmart. It's all very strange.
But, is my house my home? How do you know?
At first, it was like a sleep-away camp. Then it was like going to college. But now, my mind and body have figured out that we aren't going anywhere else. This is the end of the line for the time being and, honestly, we don't know how to feel about it.
Is it my home because I live in it? Is my home in West Virginia my home because it was where I grew up?
How do you define home? How do you grow comfortable with living outside of your realm of comfort, the things you knew all along? How do you make this new life your home?
I want to feel like I belong somewhere. I miss that feeling about West Virginia. I was born there. I was raised there. And no one could take that away from me. There was a sense of belonging there, knowing that you were welcome to stay there for your whole life. So how do I make a new place feel that way?
I think one of my biggest fears of letting this place feel like a home is the fact that I don't know if we're staying here permanently. I mean, there's a big world out there and I promised myself I would see it. I planned to live in NYC, South Carolina, California. I was going to make something of myself no matter where I went and I was not going to settle.
Is this settling? If I make this place feel like home, am I settling? Because I'm scared I can't make something of myself? Because I don't know what it's like not to live in one, singular home my whole life?
Or is wanting to make a home what I should be doing everywhere I go, whether it's permanent or not? Wouldn't that just make it harder?
So, what is a home? Is it the people? The roof over your head? Your childhood home? Your hometown? Or is it whatever you need it to be in that moment?
What about you? How do you make a home? Is it scary, moving on every so often instead of firmly placing down roots? Or, is creating a home wherever you are the way it's all supposed to go?
Maybe I'm right about some things, but maybe I'm wrong about it all. It just seems like the less people I know when I drive through town or sit down at a restaurant, the less it feels like home.