Home is an interesting concept when you’re 24 and still figuring out where you want to lay down roots. I know 30-somethings who struggle with the same issues, but have typically laid down roots and have some semblance of financial stability (and a nicer apartment/condo than me) that puts them in a different league.
Last night, around 11 pm, after fretting over whether or not my flight would get back to Chicago all through work, watching a guy get plucked from the table next to me and arrested at DCA, two hours in the air, a disaster of an airport pickup by my brother (an hour to find me at O’hare and get back onto I-90?), and another hour of driving I was…home. Back in the same house my family has lived in since I was born, a place that has had additions and renovations to no end, seeded with memories and whiffs of nostalgia for the simplicity of life when I was 10 (and didn’t realize & appreciate just how simple life was).
The Christmas decorations look the same as they have for years: immaculate, with pine garland, ribbons, lights, and nativities covering the house, and a beautiful 10+ foot real tree that Mom and Dad went and cut down themselves. The fridge is stocked with the same staples that have always been there (Morningstar Farms Vegetarian Breakfast Sausage Crumbles? Check.), though in lesser quantities since all three children have moved out. Some things have changed in decor, but the photos lining the hallway are still in the same spaces they’ve always been, family photos through the years mixed with individual shots, like me in my lime green ballgown from my senior prom.
It’s comfortable to be home. Happy. Relaxing. But home is an interesting idea. When I’m in DC and someone asks me where I’m from, I still say Illinois. I have an Illinois driver’s license, even though I haven’t really lived here full time since I was eighteen. But when someone in Illinois, or while I’m traveling, asks where I’m from, I usually say DC. Or some convoluted mess of, “Illinois, but I live in DC now.” I still feel more at home here in the Land of Lincoln than I do in DC, where I’ve lived for nearly a year, have a great job, a wonderful group of friends, and a crazy schedule; I could have made the same comparison about Boston a year ago.
I suppose this might be the price we Millenials pay for pushing back marriage-kids-settling down: a lot of us feel like we’re in transition, moving from one place, one job, one relationship to the next. Or perhaps I have skewed expectations of what “home” should feel like, having grown up with parents happily married longer than I’ve been alive (30 years), living in the same house. But, at the end of the day, it’s more beautiful than I can say to know I can always come to this home, filled with comfort, love, joy, and memories.
My wish to each of you is to have an amazing holiday, wherever home might be.