I don’t get homesick often. When I was a senior in high school, I jumped at the chance to apply to schools beyond the borders of the Buckeye state and ultimately chose to attend Boston University, a not-so-driving-friendly 12 hours from home. And while I welcomed the occasional care package sent by my parents and cherished my infrequent visits from my sister, a state away in Connecticut, I didn’t spend a lot of time wishing I could cut my time short at school and return home to Cleveland.
Fast forward to the glorious world of post-graduation. Three months ago, I moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where I did not know a single soul. Since then, I have thankfully made a few more friends, but I think more than anything, I have gained a better understanding of what home is.
Last night, I was texting another leadership consultant and told her “I’m going home on Friday.” I then paused and looked at the sentence I had just typed. It felt weird to write that. One of the hardest things about being an adult, I have discovered, is deciding where home is after you’ve entered the real world. Is it in Cleveland, where I grew up? In Boston, where I became a real person (or started pretending to be one, anyways)? Or is it in Myrtle Beach, where my name is on a lease?
I spent the first few weeks of my time in South Carolina trying to make my apartment feel more like a place where someone lives–which can be surprisingly difficult when you a) are balling on a budget and b) know you will be moving again in nine months. Here’s what I’ve learned: there are no number of candles, throw pillows, or kitchen utensils that can make a one bedroom apartment feel like a home. But here’s what I also know now:
Home is not a place. It is not defined by a ZIP code, latitude and longitude coordinates, or even the address on the front door of a house.
Home is a feeling. It is relief. It is comfort. It is letting your guard down.
Home can be people, too. How lucky am I that I have homes sprinkled around this great big country of ours, living in the hearts of my consultant team, in my family, in my sisters, and my college friends?
I am lucky that I have several homes, each wonderfully different. And while I have grown to love the little life I have built for myself in South Carolina, I am so looking forward to returning to my first home for the next few weeks.
See you soon, Cleveland.