by Sara Faltersack
A simple word with a definition that is far from simple.
For some, home is a house. For others, it’s where family is. Some say home is the place where they were born. Others say it’s a place they just found. For some, home is a place they left and are trying to get back to. Some people have one home. Some people have many homes. Others even have no home at all.
Home is shelter. Home is friends. Home is family. Home is familiarity. Home is love. Home is belonging.
In my life, I have been many places. I’ve visited, vacationed, studied, and lived. I’ve seen mountains, rivers, lakes, oceans, trees, and flowers. I’ve met beautiful people and I’ve seen beautiful things. I’ve also met terrible people and I’ve also seen terrible things. My heart has taken me to many places in the course of my 23 years but my heart only considers a select few of those places to be home.
For me, home is more than a house. It’s more than pictures on the walls and cute coffee mugs and nice couches.
For me, home is a feeling.
It’s a pull in your heart. A tug that cannot be ignored.
It’s feeling like you belong. It’s feeling loved. It’s feeling needed.
For me, home is the house I grew up in. It’s my now yellow, used to be pink, used to be blue, walled bedroom. It’s the familiar creaks the steps make when I run up them. The cool feeling of hardwood on my feet when I get out of bed. It’s knowing exactly where everything is in the kitchen. Every pot, pan, dish, mug and spoon. It’s hearing the door open and knowing mom’s home from work. It’s the sidewalks of my hometown filled with kids on bikes and dogs on walks. Lined with trees and flowers and smiling faces.
Home is the campus I spent four years at in college. It’s the coffee shop that I spent hours in studying for exams. It’s the table in the cafeteria that I’ve sat at with friends laughing until we cried and crying until we laughed. It’s the hallways and the buildings. It’s the town my school is in. The late night trips to Applebee’s. The midnight adventures to movie theatres. The walks along familiar trails and sidewalks.
Home is a camp hidden in the woods. It’s the long, winding, gravel roads. It’s the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere and knowing that the middle of nowhere is exactly where you belong. It’s the deer and the bears and the birds and the chipmunks and the squirrels. It’s the tall trees and the deep lake. It’s people coming together. It’s working for a purpose. It’s the feeling my heart gets when I see the welcome sign. The peace I feel when I breathe in the fresh, wild air.
Most recently, home is a city in a country I’ve never been to, on a continent that I wasn’t born on.
It’s the people of the city and their kindness. The people of the city and their pride. It’s weaving in and out of tourists and couples in love on my way to work. It’s the old streets and stone sidewalks. It’s the pubs and the cafes and the trees. It’s knowing and not knowing where I am at all times. It’s falling asleep to the sound of buses and cars. It’s finding a quiet place to think in the middle of the hustle and bustle. It’s walking everywhere, rain or shine. It’s feeling comfortable and familiar even though everything around you says you should feel the exact opposite. It’s the feeling in my heart when I’m almost home after work and I see the familiar buildings, sidewalks and trees.
Jackson. Green Bay. Fort Wilderness. Dublin.
Four places that my heart has decided to call home.
Jackson, Wisconsin is the town that I grew up in and always come back to. Green Bay, Wisconsin is the city I went to school in. Fort Wilderness, Wisconsin is a camp in the middle of nowhere that changed my life.
And then there is Dublin. A city I’ve lived in for almost a month. Just one month. A city that I consider home. I don’t know what it is about this city but from the moment I got here I just felt like I belonged. I have traveled before. I’ve stayed in many different places and I’ve never had this experience. Every other place I’ve been to I’ve loved and I’ve had a great time in, but I always got excited about the thought of coming home. But in Dublin, I am home. Thinking about leaving feels strange. Why would I want to leave a place where I feel like I belong?
I guess that’s the gamble you take when you leave your home and go off somewhere else. You risk the place you go to also becoming the place you call home. You risk your heart being scattered in many different places. You risk missing old friends but making new ones. You risk a lot.
But it’s worth the gamble.
A simple word, with a far from simple definition.
But I think it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. The feeling of being at home. If you have that feeling, rejoice. Life has rewarded you. If you don’t have it, search high and low to find it. It’s worth finding and losing and finding over and over and over again.
“Home is the nicest word there is.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Sara Faltersack is a mess of a girl trying to find herself in a messy world. She is a writer, traveler, photographer, friend, extreme animal lover, college graduate, and most recently, an intern in Dublin. For more Sara, check out her blog and Instagram!