Home is something we are born into; lose; then recreate. I held onto my home far longer than most in my generation. I did not leave for college. I even stayed a year after I graduated college. Finally, at the age of 22, I left. That was a year ago. What has happened in the year since then is something I suppose everyone goes through in one way or another.
My idea of home deteriorated. But it did not happen in the way I expected. First off, it took much more than just moving out to feel the change. I spent 11 months in a home with my closest friends. I knew my “home” was in flux, but I didn’t realize that my idea of home was simultaneously deteriorating. No. Not deteriorating. Breaking apart.
My idea of home started off as a whole. It was something I could point to and get a warm feeling about. But, as time carried one, I saw the differences between my idea of home and other’s. I realized I had two caring parents. I realized I grew up generally middle-class. Slowly, over those eleven months, my idea of home broke about into various ideals of homelife.
I started pointing to specific parts of my upbringing and thinking, “Yes. I want that” or “No. That’s not what I want.” I started to hate the idea of going into debt or having television in the house. I realized I craved a large family and wanted reading to be a big part of our lives. With these ideas of a future—unknown to my former teenage self—I started to lose my home. I still went back to my parent’s house about once a week. But it stopped being mine.
I knew something had changed. I just didn’t understand how much. Then, two months ago, I moved out of my college-house. I moved to an empty condo my grandmother had occupied prior to being moved a retirement home. The agreement was that I could live there as long as I helped clear out her belongings and make the condo presentable for sale. The result was a strange living environment in which I spent my days organizing and removing every possession from the house.
After about two weeks, the condo was pretty much empty. Simultaneously, I came to an agreement with a girl I was falling desperately in love with. She allowed me to come spend a month with here—up in Washington State. I’ve lived in Colorado my entire life. I was ecstatic to go. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic; spending a month in limbo with the girl of my dreams sounded perfect. So, before I even had a chance to feel at home in the condo, I took off. 1,300 miles.
While in Washington, I feel in love. I also came across a very strange realization. While I felt comfortable on a strange college campus more than a thousand miles from Colorado, I did not have a bed to call my own. It was then that I realized that I had no home. I had moved out of my parent’s home more than a year ago. I could no longer call the college-house mine. The condo back in Colorado definitely didn’t feel like mine. Washington was too temporary to be mine.
I had no home. In fact, it’s been a month since I’ve had this realization. I still have no home. I am not shelterless, but I am homeless. I have returned from Washington and currently live in a very empty condo. It’s so empty, in fact, that it is hard to believe I will ever call it home. Here’s the twist. In fifty days, I leave to the Peace Corps. I’ll be in Morocco for 27 months.
So here I am. I am 23 years old. For two months, I have been homeless. I expect to continue to be homeless for at least another 29 months. Almost three years without a home. I know I will become comfortable in Morocco—with time. But it will always be a temporary assignment. I will never be able to call Morocco my home.
Being homeless was strange at first. It was difficult to know I would not feel the pure comfort of home for some time. But that ended up not being the case. The truth is that I am not homeless. Home just stopped being a physical place. I started finding home everywhere else in my life. Hanging out with friends. Watching the Broncos with my dad. Talking with my mom. Holding my love close. This became my new home.
“Home is where the heart is.”
My home is no longer physical. My home is now directly related to the feeling of love. With this, I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I may not have a physical home I can be comfortable with. However, I can feel comfortable so long as people I love are present. Wherever I am becomes my home. That why, in the days before leaving Washington, I felt like I was leaving my home. That’s why, when I arrived at my parent’s house for Thanksgiving, I felt like I was at home.
My idea of home broke down into different ideals. Then this happened. Now love pulls those different ideals together. For the first time in my life, I can visualize the home I want to start. I can now see the home I came from as well as the home I will create soon. First and foremost, I want a home that is held together my love. A strong marriage is key. I want to show my love to my kids. Not through gifts, but through attention and the proper dosage of sternness.
Behind that loving house comes the outlying ideals—book-loving, living within our means, without television, adventurous, and open-minded. It is a household I desperately want to build someday. It’ll be a physical house and spiritual home. Living in my spiritual home without my physical house in these coming years will only strengthen my determination to build such a household.
If all goes well, I can cross another line from my Bucket List in 25-35 years:
16. Walk my daughter down the aisle.
[Written 25 November 2012]