Truthfully, I crave home all the time. Though, home is an idea that becomes a little hazier as you grow older. Home has been a shoebox-sized dorm, splashed with white paint and high-pitched voices. Home has been a studio apartment, perhaps worthier of a shoebox comparison. Home has been a college campus. Home has been the cold, busy sidewalks that checker downtown Chicago. But, for me, there has always been one consistent, always desired home.
I have a countdown app on my phone that I frequently update with the next date I get to go home, home to the house where I grew up. The house is coated in a brownish brick and the interior is in a constant state of well-lived-in. My bedroom is baby blue and is filled with beach and ocean memorabilia to accommodate a 12-year-old’s love for dolphins. It’s my life materialized – the cork board with everything from plane tickets to cheer try out numbers, the books in every corner, and the photo frames filled with people who sit somewhere on the scale from Facebook friend to best friend.
Homesickness is hard. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced real homesickness, real debilitating, stomach-aching homesickness. The kind of homesick that keeps you trapped in a few minutes, restricted to just one unpleasant moment. It’s not fun. Even thinking about it makes me uneasy.
I kind of always assumed homesickness was something I would grow out of. Inevitably, I would just stop missing my old bedroom. One day, I wouldn’t wish I was dancing in the kitchen with my family on Friday nights. I wouldn’t think about my bed or being woken by the sunlight streaming in my bay windows and something resembling war-zone noises coming from two teenage boys. Simply, this version of home was an extra layer I wouldn’t need someday, as cozy and comfortable as it may be. Lots of people grow up and move away. If everyone else can let go of home, so can I.
Yeah, I haven’t found this to be true quite yet.
All this to say, I’ve been thinking about why I’m so attached to my home a bit more recently. In about a month, I’ll be heading the farthest away from home that I have ever been. And, though it’s only for a few weeks, I’m worried that my heart will hurt for my earthly home, as it has so many times. I’m afraid I’ll be held back, that I won’t take the new environment for everything that is is and everything that it offers because my mind will be wishing I was somewhere else.
But, here’s what I’ve come to learn about home – or life, rather. We’re meant to be pushed and pulled. We’re given these bodies, these spaces to stretch ourselves. We can fill these spaces with the challenging words on white pages, with good, lasting relationships, and with what lies on the other end of a long plane ride. This is our space to clutter and fill and live in.
As minimalistic as I try to be, I’m not someone who can thin my wardrobe down to a capsule. I know my bed sits above a number of miscellaneous objects, none I could really name or assign any sort of practical purpose. That cork board in my bedroom – it no longer looks like a cork board, rather it compares better to a pile of mail or a basket of laundry pinned on a wall. Cluttered and imperfect feels like home. I like well-lived-in.
And, I think, in a similar way, our lives become more valuable when we fill them. Not with these material things – with these experiences, with knowledge and people and memories. Having a home is great; having a home you adore is even better. But, our lives, these space we carry with us, are our home for the short time we’re here. And, if we fill them to the brim and stretch them like a recently-dried pair of jeans, a life is much more well-lived-in.
And that makes the homesickness a little easier to heal from.