Recently I moved back to the area that I grew up in. When I moved away in 2011, I swore up and down that I would never move back. I guess when someone says “never say never” you should probably listen. I was offered an incredible job, and after a few months of transitioning, I wanted to talk about the experience a little bit more.
I spent seven years of my life living in a city 1,000 miles away from my family. And, if I’m being totally honest, I feel more homesick now than I think I ever have. There were definitely times when I lived in Springfield that I missed home (like that one time I wasn’t home for Christmas). But, as I sit here still trying to recover from a recent visit back to good ole Springtown, I realize how much of my heart is still there.
But here’s the weird thing—my heart isn’t in the places. When I got into Springfield, I was expecting to have some weird come-to-Jesus moment where I broke down because I still felt like I belonged there. I didn’t. My brain short circuited because I was all of a sudden in this very familiar place, but it didn’t feel like home anymore. But if I’m being honest… Ithaca doesn’t feel like home either.
So where does that leave me?
I really don’t know. What I do know is this—the phrase “home is where the heart is” means something very different to me now. My heart isn’t in Springfield anymore, but it isn’t here in Ithaca with me either. It’s with all of the people who have shaped me into the person I am today. Being with all of those familiar faces this weekend was like medicine. I have not been hugged that many times in a while and let me tell you, ya girl needed it.
My heart is with my church family. The one that still uses me in the promotional material even though I live 1,000 miles away now. The one that I know still prays for me, and welcomes me back with open arms when I visit. My heart is with the friends who don’t want to do anything except sit in our pajamas and eat Taco Bell, and will humor me as I say a “Midwest goodbye.” My heart is with the friend who has seen me cry more times than any other person in this world, and walked with me through the toughest season of my life, but is also there to watch Queer Eye with me and laugh at the good times, too. My heart is with the friends who encourage me and push me, and let me into their lives.
My heart is with my actual, real, biological family. The one who has firsthand seen how hard this transition has hit me and has tried to do everything in their power to make New York feel like home again. The one who stands by me and loves me even when I make it exceptionally difficult. The one who is excited for me to be back, but understands that being here still leaves me feeling very isolated and confused and is giving me the space to figure it out.
If I wrote individually about each person that I felt “at home” with, this post would be an actual novel. So, to make it short(er), I just wanted to let everyone know how much I appreciate them. In this season of not feeling like any particular place is “home” to me, I will cherish all of the people who I feel at home with. Even if they’re 1,000 miles away.