1: one’s place of residence
2: the social unit formed by a family living together
3. a familiar or usual setting
4. a place of origin
Home seems like a simple thing, but tonight it perplexes me.
Because when I think of home, not one single place or person or thing comes to mind. Because I think of all these things:
I think of that little gray house on Maple Street where my room had bunnies on the wallpaper and I was forever mimicking my older brother.
I think of my little Dutch hometown with windmills on the street corners, the place where I can walk two blocks and inevitably see a handful of people I know. I think of summer nights on the square and junior high marching band practices and awkward first dates in that movie theater.
I think of college, of the dorm rooms and the friendships and the laughter and of running down every street in Kirksville in the course of four years.
I think of those brief months in Thailand. I think of tile-floored rooms and sometimes cold showers and all those beautifully friendly Thai faces. I think of my favorite taxi drivers and the lady who sold me popcorn at the temple market every week and the girl who always picked me the best apples at the fruit stand.
I think of the coffee shop. I think of those brick walls and wood floors and the smell of espresso on my hands, and I remember how sacred and quiet and simple that place felt at 5:45 a.m. I think of my friends there. I miss them.
I think of Colorado, of waking up in the morning and deciding I want to climb a mountain and watch the sun rise. And being able to do it.
I think of my family. My dad, my mom, my brothers, my sisters. My giggling niece and my chubby-cheeked nephew. Friends who can read me better than I can read myself. Board games. Glasses of wine. Hiking. Innumerable cups of coffee. Tears. Laughter. Iowa. Missouri. Colorado. Minnesota. California. Arizona. Thailand. Switzerland. Guatemala. Ghana. All the places that are my homes or home to the friends or family who are part of what home means to me.
And sometimes I wish home were one place. That I didn’t wander as much as I do, because then I wouldn’t have to say goodbye so often. Then I wouldn’t have to go through that awkward stage of navigating life in an entirely new place. And then I wouldn’t have to be sad when I leave it and begin the sometimes arduous process of starting anew elsewhere.
Sometimes I wish that.
But then I think how beautiful it is to have all these homes. To be at home in so many places and with so many different people. To be, in the same moment, both sad to leave an old home and happy to go to the new one. And to be constantly adding new homes to the list of ones I already have.
Yes, my home is a beautiful place.