Going home is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. It means an end to finals, an end to tough classes, and an end to the rain clouds. It’s incredible to know that you will soon see sunny skies and fields of green; but going home also means saying goodbye to you new friends, your Saint Martin’s family members, and even the rain clouds that you have come to enjoy. But how can you say goodbye to such an adventure?
Perhaps the first step is packing up your dorm room. You gather your belongings into plastic bins and then put them into storage until they can be used again. Baskets and containers are stacked in the corner of your room, clothing, dishes, and knick-knacks are scattered everywhere, and suddenly, it is all too much.
How can one year, a solid slice of your life, amount to a few storage bins, a couple of stray boxes, and a bag full of bedding? You look around and think, “This can’t be all!” but at the same time, you know it’s too much. How will all this fit into your friend’s car? How will it fit into your small share of the storage unit that you’ve rented out with your friends? It’s a strange dilemma… you’ve accumulated too much stuff, but at the same time, it cannot be enough to account for each experience you’ve had at Saint Martin’s University.
This hits home, especially for the students who cannot take the bulk of their belongings with them. So, we, as the students from states far and wide, play a game where we must toss items between storage, suitcases, and donation boxes. We must make a choice with every possession: Which box will you choose?
But guys, gals, Saints far and wide…
It’s not about the amount of stuff, or even the stuff itself—It’s about the memories that happen within all of it. The care packages, the late-night snack runs, all the adventures that made the year amazing—those are what matter. The life lessons are the things that we should be holding on to, and though they do not fit in a box, they fill our heart just fine.
I realized this last week while standing in an endless TSA line: I’m going home, but to do so, I must leave home. My mom left me a gift on my dresser, something else to add to my collection, and as soon as I saw it, I immediately ran outside to hug her and said, “This is coming home with me.”
When did SMU become home? Well… I guess you could say it was in those little moments. I found where I belong when I wasn’t looking for anything more than an adventure. Now, I have two places where my family resides. One is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by tropical plants and loved ones. The other is in the Pacific Northwest, full of evergreen trees and friends who I couldn’t imagine life without.
Home is not a landmark, it’s not a place you can put your finger on. Home is a feeling. It is the safety of family and the fun of friends. It is stable and yet full of surprises at every turn. It is laugher that rings out around you, smiles that beam out at you, and unconditional love. Home is not in a structure… Home is in your heart.
At each semester’s end, I am happy to say that I come home. But at the start of each semester, I return to my home as well. While I go back and forth, I miss the other with all my heart, and yet, I savor each moment in both places, both homes, because my home is not a place, it is a feeling. Something deep inside that guides me when I need an extra push. Home is where my heart is, neither here nor there, but both instead, and with both, I am whole no matter where I go.