In 2015, I took on a one-year professor position in Georgia, even though I live in Virginia. Now, six years later, I’m still in that position and living somewhere between Yorktown, Virginia, where my home is, Lynchburg, Virginia, where my kids are and Franklin Springs, Georgia, where I work.
Half the time, I’m asking myself things like “what happened to that shirt I bought just last week?” I’m wondering which state I’m in at this very moment. Or I’m trying to figure out where I know someone from, only to realize I’m actually in a place that individual doesn’t even live. Long gone are the days of simply trying to figure out where that missing sock went. And the notion of what it means to be “home” is an obscure concept in my life these days.
In quiet moments when I’m alone and contemplating the meaning of life and what in the world I’ve been doing for the past six years, I’m reminded of something I heard long ago: Home is whatever there is in your life that stops you from feeling alone. I find solace in these words because I know they are true.
The walls that surround me don’t define home; the state I’m in doesn’t define home; the interstate I’m traveling on doesn’t define home; the personal belongings present in each location don’t define home; the bed I’m in when I close my eyes at night and open them in the morning doesn’t define home. Instead, home comes in many forms, sometimes as a whisper and sometimes with a bang, but you can’t miss it when you see it. For me, home looks like this:
- Waking up to my dog staring at me and saying, “Are you gonna get up already?!”
- Receiving a text out of nowhere that says, “Thinking about you and just wanted to check in.”
- Watching the light bulb come on as I show my 85-year-old parents how to use their new MacBook computers when all they’ve ever known are PCs.
- Stopping at mine and my son’s favorite restaurant as we make the trek across the states.
- Getting a fresh Diet Coke from my son’s girlfriend who stopped by McDonald’s to get it for me because, well… she knows how much I want one, even without me asking for it.
- Playing Words with Friends with family members who are miles away.
- Watching one of my college seniors deliver the senior project presentation and welling up with pride over just how much these students have grown, knowing I played a part.
- Feeling the warmth of my precious tabby cat as she lays next to me, practically melding into my leg.
- Taking my car to the shop that just told me they couldn’t get me in for a week only to have them say, “I tell you what; you leave it and give me till the end of the day. We’ll get it done.”
- Enjoying lunch with a friend and freely speaking my mind without concern of judgment.
- Hearing my students say, every single year, “You can’t leave until I’ve graduated. You have to stay at least that long.”
So, if you’re like me and ever find yourself feeling a bit out of sorts with home seeming just out of reach, think of all the ways your life is made better by those people and things that keep you from feeling alone. And relish in the truth that there really is “no place like home.”