I was babysitting a few nights back, and after dinner the kids wanted to go for a walk. As we were walking through the neighborhood, I glanced toward one of the houses and saw a group of people inside, gathered around a table and laughing. And a realization hit me like a final punch.
It isn’t exactly a secret that I’ve felt really off my game lately. I’ve been frustrated, unmotivated, tired, and deeply bothered by something I could never fully articulate. I knew more or less where the feelings were coming from — living in a sometimes purgatory-esque phase of working but not where I want, responsible but not independent, both too far and too close. But I was still struggling to explain how I felt. Until I saw those people in the window, and realized I’m homesick.
Now that sounds like an awful thing to say when I’m living at home, but let me explain. Home has always been a difficult word for me. By the time I turned 17, I had lived in 17 different houses. My parents are divorced, so I spent basically the first 16 years of my life constantly switching back and forth between them. So for me, home isn’t really a place; it’s a feeling.
I have found that feeling in nature and towns and loved ones and communities and yes, sometimes in houses (and yes, the picture above is of the sunrise outside my actual house). I am incredibly grateful for all of the people and things that have helped create feelings of home, even now. Still, this phase is temporary. Plus I’ve got this habit of my heart running faster than the calendar, and it’s a hell of a discrepancy these days.
I wish I could tell you that I’m the only one going through this because a) it sucks, and b) it would be easier to tell myself to get over it. But frankly, it ain’t just me. One of the hallmark traits of emerging adulthood is a feeling of being profoundly in-between. In-between adolescence and established adulthood. In-between dependence and full self-sufficiency. In-between where you were and where you want to be.
For a lot of Millennials, the dream isn’t a McMansion and an expensive car — often, it’s an apartment with bills paid and good food in the fridge, maybe a dog and some plants. We aren’t after ostentatious; we’re after our own version of home, even if humble.
If you’re already got that, I hope you’re content. If, like me, you’re feeling homesick for a place you haven’t arrived at yet, hang in there. Let the hope drive you forward, and keep an eye out for the beautiful moments on the way. If you’re up for it, buy a plant. Either way, know that there are a hundred ways to feel at home, but the common thread is always a deep caring.