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October 3, 2014

No place like home

Alice Xiao / The Chicago Maroon

Somewhere between my high school graduation and now—my third year in the College—”home” became a memory. My older brother graduated college and moved out and on to his real, adult life. My parents sold my childhood home and moved across the country. One of my best friend’s parents got divorced and sold their house, leaving her stranded on the east coast for the summer, and my other best friend got married and moved in with her new husband. And I stayed in Chicago, working, eschewing all my usual summer traditions, and watching all the people who used to surround me pack up and move on.

Now it just seems like there are a series of places I visit and stay temporarily: my apartment just off campus, my boyfriend’s parents’ house, and my parents’ new house. But if I want to go “home”...where would that even be?

I don’t know if I’m nostalgic for it, or if I even miss it. I don’t feel so much lost or abandoned as just generally adrift—which isn’t completely unpleasant. I uprooted myself to go to school on the opposite end of the country, so maybe I was never really interested in having a home. But I think I always counted on my parents staying put, on the giant bean bag in our living room, on my best friend’s amazing cinema room, on all my usual comfortable places. And now none of them exist.

All the stable things turn out not to be so stable. Your childhood dissolves like those allergy pills you keep on your tongue—slowly, inadequately, until you end up just swallowing a clump of cherry-flavored mush. It’s one of those things you see coming when you pack up for college, but convince yourself can’t really happen. All of a sudden home has to be something else. Not a place. Now home is my mom’s voice on the other end of the phone; home is all my dogs jumping up around my ankles while I lug my suitcase in the front door—any front door; home is unexpected texts from my friends and the ensuing long, slumber-party kind of deep conversations; it’s holding my boyfriend’s hand when we’re walking down unfamiliar streets.

Growing up means losing a lot of things, yes. But maybe you’re better for it. Maybe it’s better to not have to split your home up between places and people, things that change and fade, and just let home be a feeling. That overwhelmingly gooey feeling. Real comfort. It’s cheesy, sure, but what else can you do?

Kayleigh Voss is a third-year in the College majoring in English.

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