Any day now … my oldest sister is due to have her first baby.
Not only is this baby her first, but it (no idea what the sex is) will also be the first grandchild and first niece or nephew in my family as well. So, seeing that the last nine months of my life have been spent anticipating the day my sister will bring this baby home, and adding in the fact that I have just returned home after spending four weeks with my family, it is no surprise that I, an avid over-thinker, have been contemplating the very concept of home.
Growing up, I never doubted the saying, "Home is where the heart is." It seemed fitting, especially because back then the house my family lived in was the only home I knew and my entire heart was with my parents and sisters. However, as I entered high school, I began to find more places that could feel like home.
I spent a significant amount of time at friends' houses and even began to create a bond with their families. These places felt comfortable; my friends and their families felt familiar. It was normal for me to sleep there, to hang out, to walk into the kitchen to get some snacks. While I knew these places weren't my home, nor did they feel as familiar or as comfortable, there were times where I wished I were there instead of at my own home. I guess these places had become my home away from home.
It's interesting to look back on those days. Now, after spending almost four years in Fort Collins when I go back "home," or rather to the place where I grew up, it still feels like home even though I don't consider it my home anymore. It is where my family rejoins after too much time apart; it is the house I have listed as my permanent mailing address; and it is a place I know I can always run to, but something has changed.
Whenever I go back, it's always with a suitcase packed full of clothes I wear in a different city. The pictures on the walls of the room I used to escape to are either of friends I've lost touch with or ones back at school who have no connection to this house. The companionship of my family is something I find myself not used to, and the surrounding city is a place I no longer know by heart.
College students often find themselves at a fork in the road like this. This period, that unnamed stage between adolescence and adulthood, is strange enough as it is without the question of where home really is. And even more confusing is the fact that home is a different place with a different meaning for us all.
Some of us still haven't begun to think of our college town as home, while some of us do or never will. Some of us are still wishing we were back in the place we came from and some of us haven't looked back since we left. We may know where home is, or even have an idea, or we may not yet be sure -or even care.
Songs, books, movies and sayings have revolved around the concept of home for as long as it has been a place. And as soon as my little niece or nephew is brought through the doors of the house in which he/she will start his/her life, a new idea of home will once again be created. And as this child grows, that idea will change and be questioned, as it was for us all. But the one thing that never changes is the feeling that only home can bring. It is this feeling that pushes us to search, to wonder, to explore and to challenge ourselves and the life we know so that one day we can create a home of our own. Home may be anywhere and it can be everywhere- but no matter what or where it is, home is of our heart.
Kelly Hagenah is a senior speech communications major. Her column will run regularly on Thursdays.