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October 18, 2013

A place to call home

Courtesy of Teddy Watler

Home is a difficult concept for those of us in college. We are forced to accept that the next phase of our life will be filled with many homes, which are subsequently filled with cheap, temporary furniture. We expect the scenery and faces to change year-to-year; college morphs with every graduation and every new class.

Returning from Bologna after studying abroad for the past year, I was sick of it: tired of moving, tired of making new starts and finding new friends, tired of adjusting to a new life in my house—I can attest to the fact that any set of roommates brings a whole new way of living—tired of feeling like I don’t know where I am, what is going on, what is next.

Over the past few years, I had fallen in love with the idea of a youth full of change and new experiences. And while I know that moving on to new places is not only necessary, but also good for me, getting on that plane back to the U.S. only made me sick.

I was leaving Bologna, my home, behind; Bologna, a home that would never exist again.

All I wanted to do was stay. I wanted to find a place where I could stay and call my home forever.

But this is college, this is youth, this is America—where we are constantly moving around the country for better opportunities. Our families are spread across the country—if not the world—for jobs, love, and school.

Staying put isn’t really an option anymore.

Youthful ambition pushes us to travel. Chances are, even those who choose to stay close to home for college will find themselves packing up and leaving behind loved ones.

I am sitting in my apartment in Chicago looking around at my roommates, each snuggled up somewhere on a couch in our living room, each someone I can’t imagine not having in my life. I know right now that after graduation, we must part ways; we will never be here, living together again. Our commonalities will slowly decrease as we go into different careers, move to different cities, and gradually drift in different directions.

And I don’t know what is going to keep us together. Maybe it’s the fact that my roommate knows I cringe when she makes pasta “the wrong way,” or maybe it’s the fact that we know all of the “big things” about each other. It’s probably all of these things, but the most important one is that just being together, even if it is in the Reg until we get kicked out, makes it all better.

The phrase “home is where the heart is” struck my thoughts while I was running toward Lake Michigan this past week. In this phrase is the problem, my problem: I have no idea where my heart is. I can hear it physically beating in my chest, but emotionally it has been scattered about the earth. I see this heart, bloody, hacked into three, and buried under the floorboards of each place I consider my home.

While painful, there really is something beautiful about that: I have been lucky enough in my life to have had my heart in not only one place, but three. I have had enough people in this world that love and care about me that I have not one or two, but three places that feel safe enough that they have become my home.

Even if these are places that will never exist again, they existed at one point. And for me, that’s enough.

Noelle Turtur is a fourth-year in the College majoring in history.

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