Shreveport. Nashville. London.
All of these places I’ve referred to as home on more than one occasion. Even Denver and the stretch of coast along northwest Florida have been dubbed by me as home before.
So what exactly is home? Is it the place where you were born? Grew up? Went to college? Found your first job?
Is it the place where your family lives? Where you’ve spent the majority of your years? Is it the place where you’re currently in now?
Is home even a place at all, or is it simply the presence of loved ones?
Again, what is home?
“Home is where the heart is.” If this is the case, how can I specify a home when my heart is in so many different locations?
To me, home encompasses quite a bit. Home is where I’ve grown, loved, hurt, and made mistakes. Home is meeting up with old friends over Monjunis’ spaghetti and meatballs, laughing way too hard over sarcastic quips that likely are only mildly funny (jk we’re hilarious). Home is driving down 21st, windows down, Keane up, and sun shining en route to Panera. Home is standing atop Primrose Hill, Coldplay serenading me through my earbuds as I gaze at the London skyline. Home is a walk along the white shores of 30-A, engrossed in a deep conversation with my best friend.
Home is the house I grew up in, my childhood friends, the beautiful people I’ve met in my college journey, the Rockies, Belmont, my London flat, a meal shared with those I love, the Ryman, Kennedy 527, Horrell 303, Manhattan, my bug-infested Sonya Drive apartment, my church, a favorite artist’s concert, my family.
I was visiting Paris a couple of weekends ago, and although I absolutely love that beautiful city, I was thrilled to be able to return to London, to home. Today I’m in Nice, and already I’ve told myself that I could easily make myself at home here, promenading along the coast and enjoying a good book with the warm Mediterranean sun on my back.
I suppose this ability to see myself at home in just about any location stems from my love of traveling and experiencing new things. But I also think this can leave the door open to an odd concoction of homesickness – a longing in my heart for more than one place. How then will I ever be satisfied? I guess I have commitment problems when it comes to choosing a permanent home, but the wonderful thing about this point in my life is the opportunity to choose a home for myself independent of others’ requirements.
So come graduation in December, I have no idea where my new home will be, and that’s a terrifyingly beautiful thing. But until then, I’ll be content with carrying on broken French conversations with old couples in Nice, drinking Sangria aside the blue waters of Barcelona, taking trains through the mountains to Marseille, perusing markets in London and exploring this magnificent world, a person with more than one answer to the question “where is your home?”
C’est la vie, mes amis!
Ally Willis is currently studying abroad in London. To read more of her adventures across the pond, check out her blog, Media and Melodies.