What Is home?
- by Melanie Smith
The sun shines in, warming the train car enough to take away the chill of the cool day. It is one of those beautiful odd winter days that you are unsure whether the winter coat is necessary or not.
I determined it was not necessary, as I embarked out onto my next journey.
Chugging along, the train sounds its whistle, alarming the passing towns that the Regional is coming through. Stop by stop, I get closer and closer. Closer to remembering who I was, who I am and who I want to be.
Coming home is always an educational experience. Sometimes it saddens me to say that I feel no emotional connection to where I grew up. I don’t feel as though when looking back over my life in 20 years I will say my home is Bedford, Va. I will definitely say Bedford is where I grew up, but I will not say it is home. Where my mom is is home for me, which right now happens to be Bedford. One of the many weird things I’ve come to learn in the past year and a half is that my mom can be with me wherever I am. So it will be up to me where I call home in the future.
I know there has to be some sort of mental connection to this place where I started. Bedford is the location where I began to plant my roots in this ever-changing Earth. And each time I near these blue mountains, the dust of a dirt road, the green open pastures, I feel a calm. Part of this may just be sentimentality of knowing this was my “start,” but part of it may be because I placed everything I had in everything I did in Bedford.
I gave all the energy I could muster to do everything in Bedford. I was president of everything, captain of even more, involved in all the “right” clubs, organizations and volunteer groups.
Less than two years out, when I return to Bedford, I feel nothing. I feel as though I was just another leaf in the pile that had to be raked annually. I was raked, bagged up and forgotten in this small town.
This time that I return to Bedford is the first time I feel OK to explore my time by myself over break. I can hang out with everyone I want to, and I won’t let myself feel obliged to see and spend time with those I feel have forgotten me. I finally feel free to take time to go visit my true friends whom I have so deeply neglected, deepen my faith and take a very needed health holiday. I can spend time with those in my life that truly matter. It is not beneficial to spend my time on relationships that have no foundation and that neither party has any urge to lay a foundation to build upon.
I feel strong for the first time in two years. I can be an independent while in a relationship, while in friendships, while being someone’s child, while in school. I don’t have to conform. I can be who I was made to be.
The hard part is not regressing. Not becoming the people-pleasing pushover everyone knew. I don’t need to seek my identity in anything other than my Lord, Jesus Christ.
College and the wonderful people who have been placed in my life have taught me these wonderful lessons. And though I love the break, I can’t wait to return back to my new home, Philadelphia and Penn.
Editor’s note: This blog originally appeared on the Wharton Undergraduate Program’s Student Voices blog on May 12, 2014.