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  • Writer's picturetatum van dam

home is where the heart is

I grew up living in many different houses - around eleven, to be exact.

Along with mastering the art of folding and taping cardboard boxes, I’ve also gotten accustomed to leaving my objects in them because they are bound to get packed up again. This being said, I have ultimately learned not to grow too attached to one place.

Rather than remembering all the houses as physical structures, I more-so remember the memories associated with them - such as having aluminum foil snowball fights with my brothers in the empty living room of our Vegas house, making forts with blankets and chairs in the house up the street, or the hot summer in my Parisian apartment where I realized that the dusty thing with a knob and bars was not an air conditioner.

The other day, I visited the place I will soon be calling home number twelve: Los Angeles. For some reason though, it just didn’t feel right - however, I'm sure that eventually, it will. As I was embarking back down the infamous I-5 and staring blankly at tumbleweeds for much too long, I came to a realization.

“Home” is not my current, lovely house in the suburbs of northern California.

“Home” is not my garden; adorned with strawberries, grapes, lemons, apples, peaches, and flowers. “Home” is not the empty hot tub in our backyard, nor is it the untuned baby grand piano sitting in the living room.

“Home” is not my couch that I have turned into a bed, or the dusty, floral record player that sits in the corner of my room.“Home” is not the fairy lights and photos hanging on my wall, that fell down months ago and have yet to be taped back up.

In my eyes, “home” is simply not a place.

To me, “home” is protection.

It is when I come back from a trip and skip unpacking to take a nice warm shower. It is wearing pajamas with mismatching fuzzy socks and snuggling up in my bed. It is the soft smile that comes with letting out a deep breath of both exhaustion and relaxation, knowing that finally, I am safe. It is wrapping myself up like a burrito in the armor that is my blue and white blanket, and closing my eyes to enter the realm of dreams. It is peaceful.

To me, “home” is family.

Home is not my mom, dad, or my brothers, Jaymi, Sidney, and Tanner. Home is dysfunction. It is arriving to the house at different times, and someone always being locked out. It is the feeling when someone has eaten someone else’s leftovers, or when someone can’t find their keys.

Home is the many laughs brought by my father’s “Dutch jokes”, as well as the smirks brought by the post-its my mom leaves around the kitchen to remind everyone which towels are clean and what food there is to eat. It is the emotions that come from Sidney’s constant jokes about being perfect, Jaymi bringing home animals, and Tanner doing a light chuckle after everything he says. It is everyone saying “okay” and “yup” under their breaths. It is funny, but most importantly, it is family.

To me, “home” is music.

Home is when I am at a concert, looking up to the people who make the melodies I listen to every day. It is when I am dancing to the beat of the bass drum, no matter how stupid I may look, and peering up at the flashing lights that change color with the tone of the music.

It is constantly tapping my fingers against surfaces, and humming during times of silence. It is being surrounded by other people who share the same passion, and having long talks about it.

Home is laying on my white fuzzy rug and closing my eyes, as I listen to “Hotel California” on vinyl. It is listening to a song over and over again and discovering a new sound each time. It is driving alone, blasting music, and singing along at the top of my lungs. It is watching my friends produce music, and it is pressing a key on the piano. It is euphoric, empathetic, and bittersweet - all in one.

To me, “home” is love.

It is arriving home, no matter how long I was gone for, and seeing Sparky wag his little tail, run for his toy, and run towards me in the span of ten seconds. It is also Achilles thrusting his whip of a tail, grabbing a random shoe, and showering each of us in kisses.

It is the smile my mom gets whenever she looks at my dad, and it is, again, my dad’s sense of humor. It is my family supporting me in whatever I choose to do, and the little conversations I have with my brothers. It is the reminders from Paisley that I simply am enough and it is the Facetime calls with my friends across the world, because our friendships know no boundaries.

It is the long phone calls with Quinn just to talk about life, and it is knowing that there are people who genuinely do care about me. It is affection and reassurance.

To me, "home" is adventure.

It is exploring an unfamiliar place with the people I love. It is messy hair, wet socks, and mud covered shoes. It is sacrificing sleep for the sake of seeing something new, and it is immersing myself in an unfamiliar culture. It is a spontaneous trip, and it is the uncomfortable, but cheap, airplane rides.

It is long road trips and the great memories that come with it. It is meeting new people and attempting to speak a different language. It is the heavy breaths after hiking up a hill, and the silence that follows, looking at the view of this beautiful world we live in. It is wanderlust, and it is amazing.

All in all, home is not a place - it is a feeling. I have felt the feelings I associate with the word “home” in plenty of different places, all around the world. I’m not quite sure who originally said this, but it’s true: home is where the heart is.

What is “home” to you?

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