Is this home?

As the pile of laundry on my bed grows and the amount of concern I have over who sees it dwindles, I’ve begun thinking, “Is this home?”

At home, my mom would pick up any clothes that lay around, before they could pile up. She’d vacuum my carpet, and organize my desk when it got too messy.  To be honest, I was a pretty spoiled kid (or to phrase it eloquently, really well taken care of). I would wash the dishes sometimes if my mom forced me, but in general, my mom did everything. In the morning, I’d get out of bed twenty minutes before my bus came. That was exactly enough time for me to take a shower, brush my teeth, and put on some fresh clothes and the backpack I had packed the night before. I would eat my breakfast, usually milk and some food cereal, toast, a sandwich — that my mom prepared specially for me, as I put on my shoes, ready to sprint down to the bus stop. When I returned at 6 PM, even though she had already worked (she works full time in retail), our house was immaculate and dinner was ready. Of course, my bed was made, and my laundry was folded; that’s just how she showed me her love, despite occasional bitter words we threw at each other.

For so many years, this was how I lived. Habits don’t change (without effort). If I have a 10 AM, I roll out of bed at 9:50. Wash my face, brush, put on something presentable, and walk out of Davis to get to class on time (or maybe a minute late, if it’s in McLean). My mom isn’t there to give me breakfast; I would have to walk up the hill for that. So many days, I get food or shower after class, rather than before. Without my mom hollering at me to get up, my alarm just isn’t a good reason to get up. The same way, without my mom threatening me to go to sleep, I just ignore my tiredness as the sun rises on some late nights.

I’ve always felt that home is defined by the people you live with. I have a word count limit, but if I didn’t, I would discuss how much my dad, or my brother, has done for me as well. Being separated from them, the people that love me most, how could this be home? This place is far from home. No one on this campus, this new home (aside from the few kids that went to my high school) knows who I am. Friends that have known me for two, three months; they only know who I am at this moment. If they can discern my past, am I that transparent and predictable? I wonder that a lot. I hope not. I surprise myself every day, like when I walk to Pierce in record time, despite inclement weather, or when I talk to strangers, and then remember how I couldn’t even talk to classmates of nine, ten years for a period of my life. I want to become a person that is always growing, unpredictable,and ingenious, but those traits are difficult to have if you are the familiar and relatable friend. Like I said last week, people naturally like, and gravitate, towards those that are similar to them, that understand them, that appreciate them. That’s why my family is so important to me, and may not be as important to other people. Even if you don’t get along, something intrinsic keeps you together. Family endures hardships alongside you. Friends or romantic partners can be family to those who haven’t had a family experience as fortunate as mine. Everyone who is here, right now, has someone who is that valuable to them. It’s just hard when they are far away.

I saw this optimistically in the beginning of this semester, as an opportunity to “start anew,” and I did in some ways. I’m writing this column to vocalize my thoughts because I still find it challenging when people confront me and ask, “Are you ok?” I’m thankful for everyone’s concern, but I really don’t know how to respond to you besides assuring you that I am. All people have temporary moments of frustration, and I learned that perhaps it isn’t the best idea to let it out through the school newspaper. At home, I would have told my best friend or my mom. But they aren’t here. I want more people to know me, hear my voice. If I limit what I write about, people won’t know me as intimately as my family does, or my high school friends do. No one needs to wake me up, tell me to do my laundry. I’ll get to that in time. But, I want people to understand me on that level on this campus. Just a few people. That’s what it’ll take for this campus to become my home. 

Have a good Thanksgiving! Even if you have established a new home here, don’t forget to give love to the home that used to be.