Home is Where You Make It

I’ve moved a lot during my life, and all of that within the last five or six years. Growing up in Wisconsin, our version of a family vacation was a trip to the Wisconsin Dells (overrated), or my uncle’s cabin up north (vastly underrated). We didn’t do Disney Land until 2008, when all of us kids were old enough to appreciate it, and it was the first time anyone besides me had been on a plane. I’ve always been desperate to get away from the Midwest, and ever since I moved to New York, the first thing anyone asks me upon finding out where I came from (besides Did you live on a farm?*) is Do you miss it?

*The answer is no. Although there was a pseudo-farm down the street. They had horses, anyway.

And the answer? No. I don’t miss Wisconsin, but I do miss the people I left there. My family is incredibly close, so moving this far away from them hasn’t been easy. As a wee child, I was the girl who chickened out at sleepovers and had to have my parents come get me in the middle of the night (a belated thanks, Mom and Dad!). These days, I could care less where I sleep — I’m just glad I sleep at all. My bed is currently a mattress on the floor, with a broken Ikea bedframe around it, the rest of it having been put out on the curb weeks ago. (Don’t even get me started on my absolute abhorrence of Ikea. I will never buy anything from them again, so help me god.)

But if I’ve learned anything in the last few years, it’s this: home is where you make it.

Let’s make a cursory list of the places I’ve lived lately, shall we?
– Wisconsin (multiple cities)
– Minnesota
– Ireland
– Virginia/Washington D.C.
– New York City

All of them are vastly different (okay, maybe not Wisconsin and Minnesota). All of them have a wide variety of delicious food (cheese curds, I’m looking at you). All of them have stupid weather. I’ve lived in the suburbs, drunken college towns, quaint seaside Irish villages, and the grimey ass ghetto. But in one way or another, they’ve all been home. Some more than others, but always home.

I’m flying back to Wisconsin on Saturday, and I honestly couldn’t be more excited. Having been away for six months, I wonder if I’ve taken Wisconsin for granted a little bit. Housing is a helluva lot cheaper, what I spend on groceries in two weeks here would last me a month there, and all those cows and fields? Not so terrible after all. No, I’d never move back, but I think my fondness for the cheese state has grown since I came to NY.

When I was living in Ireland, I was ridiculously unhappy. I didn’t like my classes, I wasn’t really into the pub scene, and I was being hit on by 16-year-olds that weren’t even gingers (and I love gingers!) (also, for the record, there were not nearly as many red-headed Irish boys as I had hoped). But now, over two years later, I can say that I miss my life in Galway. I miss my walk to campus, the coffee shop on the corner, and the weird shape of soda bottles. That city has a hold on me, no matter how much I try to pretend it doesn’t. So it’s home, too.

DC is still my favorite city, and I’d move there in a heartbeat if publishing decided to pick up its feet and move everyone south five hours. But that won’t happen, so I’m content to take the bus down every couple of weeks and enjoy familiar faces and massive amounts of fanny packs.

But home is more than just a physical place. It’s the people, too. I didn’t think it was possible to worship my parents any more than I already do, but there you go. I’ve gone and done that too. My mom posted this really adorable photo of her and my dad on facebook the other night (I’d been skyping with them while they frosted cookies), and you know what? I got teary-eyed.

Because no matter where I’ve been, my parents were always there to answer the phone with a (in my dad’s case, rather loud) hello and ‘I love you.’ So I’ve never been homesick because I feel like the best part of home is always with me.

I still have a hard time thinking of New York as home, though it’s probably because I hate my neighborhood (that grimey ass ghetto I mentioned earlier). But I’ve been here long enough now to know where I’d like to move, and am slowly but surely acquiring the means to do so. So maybe in a few months, when I’m living in a nice apartment in Queens or the upper upper upper west side, the city will feel more manageable. Until then, home really is where the heart is. And I think we can all agree with that.

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