(My) Home Fits in a Carry-On

As a fairly American-looking, American-sounding girl living abroad, I’ve become quite accustomed to the typical questions of “Where are you from?” and “What nationality are you?”. Now, these are quite straightforward questions. Answers: United States. California. San Francisco. American.

And as the holidays are fast approaching, the questions have shifted to “Are you going back home for Christmas?” and “Where will you be spending the holidays?”. Simple, right? Answer: Of course, yes, I’m traveling home for two weeks during the holidays. But the more I repeat this line, the more I realize how strange the word “home” sits on my tongue.

I’m going home to the place I spent 18 years of my lifethe place where my mom, my dad, my brothers, my friends from grade school, and my too-nosy neighbors are waiting right where I left them. It's the town where I learned to read, sprained my ankle, and had my first heartbreak. The only thing that’s changed is the fact that I’m no longer there. I’m finally going back to the place that holds all these memories—shouldn’t it feel like a homecoming?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to see my family and my friends from back there. But as much as I love the people and memories attached to this place, it feels as if the word “home” is only used for a lack of a better word, or rather, a word that more accurately captures my overly thought-out views on the matter.

Is is wrong to not feel like that place is “home” anymore? Am I cheating my loved ones, favorite spots, and cherished memories out of the title they deserve?

But I don't think it has to feel like a long awaited return. I can appreciate the memories and lessons cultivated in this place for what they are; I don't feel the need to relive it all. It's okay to reminisce, but it's also okay to move on. I will always have my family, friends, and memories with me, regardless of the physical location associated with them.

I'm living abroad in a room that's not mine. It has an expiration date. When I think of the physical place, I call it home, but only because that's where I go at the end of each day. When my time is up here, where will my home be? I don't mind not knowing, because I know the feeling of home can change.

The people and experiences from my hometown will always be a part of me, regardless of where they subside. I will always sleep somewhere at the end of each day, regardless of where that will be.

Somehow I simultaneously share the feeling of not having a permanent home, while also feeling so fortunate to be able to call so many separate things pieces of home. Because for me, home is a feeling rather than a location. Every brick, every nail, every shingle of my home is a different person, memory, and experience that I hold dear.

By Avery Adams

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