Coming Home (?!?)
I went home, I conquered home, and then I came back... home. I think figuring out what home means is difficult; difficult because it changes frequently and completely, and is entirely dependent on what I'm categorizing as where I live. Is your home:
1. Where you live now?: in which case, my home is Charlottesville. I miss it when I'm gone, I'm comfortable when I'm here. But surely that isn't enough? Is your home:
2. Where you grew up: so my homes would be California, and The Gambia. Making more sense now, I have a lot of formative memories from both places, especially the latter. But not there yet... is your home:
3. Where you feel like your home is?: This one is a little trickier. I feel like my time in England was the first step in really creating who I am now. The forces in England, like Victor Frankenstein, always feel solely responsible for my identity. I know of course that is not true, I lived there for less than 10% of my life. But it feels more like home, in many ways, than the first two options. The second home that would fit into this category is my fantastic school. LET'S GO KNIGHTS (don't worry, we're DIII so I can still cheer on the Cavs as well). Does anything ever feel as much like where you belong as your college? But that is such a time-specific home; when I go back to Carleton it feels like a place that was home, that I am fond of, but that is not mine anymore and never will be in the same way again. This is only sometimes sad, so don't worry fourth-years (also everyone should read Bethel Habte's amazing article on life post-graduation).
So apart from running the gauntlet of thinking about the places I have been fortunate enough to live in... nothing is resolved. I used to feel left out for not really knowing where my home was, compared to my other less international-friends. But I think once we get to college there is a schism for everyone, regardless of where they are from. We split because our conception of where we are from and where we belong split. I may be more split than most, but almost all of us are living away from home (even if you go to college in your town, it is not quite the same as living at home). I do believe quite strongly in Option 1, though. I make my home wherever I go. This is on a physical level; like a snail, I move my belongings with me everywhere. My friends say that all of my rooms look the same because the same junk is in them (Spider-Man posters, some kind of Zac Efron memorabilia, a billion pictures of family and friends, sickeningly bright bedspread).
But I make my home on an emotional level as well; my friends become my family (oftentimes whether they want to be or not). And this makes it easier to live somewhere, but harder to leave. We'll see how things go as I, and thousands of other U.Va students, approach leaving U.Va this May.
Also, Gambia was great :-) My family continues to be complicated, fun, and fantastic.
But I'm still called the worst dancer.
What makes a home? Is it a physical house with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a grand walk-in closet or is it the essence of sanctuary—lovely and peaceful and warm all at once—that defines a home? I think the distinction between the physicality of a place and the undeniable allure of a home, as a glowing haven of family and friendship, encapsulates the way I define home. A home can certainly be a house, but it is more than that. Home is the place where my dog waits to happily greet me at the door with wet kisses, where my parents and sister live, and the safe place I return to when the stress of school and work get to be too much to bear.
However, this is one home of two that I recognize—I have grown up and grown out, and with this, I have found another place to call my own.
The town that was once simply the location of my University has now become a place I call home. Charlottesville is where I work, where I spend approximately 50 of the 52 weeks in a year, where I have met my best friends, and the place I have grown to love. I know the roads of Charlottesville as well as the ones in my hometown, know all the secret shortcuts and free parking on the downtown mall, appreciate its lively music scene, understand the frustration of students repopulating the familiar streets after a peaceful winter break. My incorrigible appetite for the wealth of culture and beauty in Charlottesville, my desire to unravel its secrets and learn from this place, forever surprises me. For me, this is what makes a home—a place from which you learn, love, and find pieces of yourself. I am fairly certain Charlottesville will not be my permanent place of residence, but the lessons I have learned here, both academic and personal, will forever preserve it in my memory as place I have called "home."
- Lingerr Senghor, Addie Bender
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