It was last year sometime. I don’t remember exactly when. We were walking up to the front door (so it must have been before we did a small renovation and had a side door), and I turned to my daughter to try and explain the concept further. “I know maybe you can’t imagine it,” I said. “But within a few weeks of being at college, that will become home and this will be something else.”
She shook her head in disbelief. She knew that home was home, and that home would always be home. I knew differently and for some reason wanted to convince her. Maybe I wanted her to see how okay I was with her leaving. Maybe I wanted her to know that I “got it” – for when she got it and didn’t think I did. I don’t know why, but I tried to explain it further, and she simply didn’t agree.
And then she left (or, to be accurate, I took her away and left her there). She moved more than a thousand miles away to the school of her dreams and began her new life, in her new home. And I carefully never asked, at least not for the first few weeks of phone calls and FaceTiming, if she was happy and loved it. But finally she told me something that let me know that she loved it, so I could ask. And she did. But we still didn’t discuss the “home” thing.
Until she went back after a long winter break. (She had said I would love her college’s trimester system and the six week winter break between Thanksgiving and New Years, and I do!) I got the snapchat with a picture of her dorm room and the words, “I’m home!!!!!!!”
So it has, and rightly so, become home for her. But today she’s coming back here. Not for long, mind you. Just for two nights, until she’ll be joined by four friends who will all crash at our house and explore Philly for a few days, and then they’ll head up to New York City. She’ll come back next weekend, but just for one night, before she goes “home.” Home to her dorm room in Minnesota, not home to here.
Because home changes as we change. Maybe one day, for a short while, she’ll call this home again. Or maybe not. Maybe it will soon become, “the house where I grew up.” Or, “my family’s house.” Or “my parents’ house,” when her brother leaves for college in a bunch of years.
It’s weird how home changes. How we change. How the things we think will always be important to us become less important to us, and the things we never think will matter begin to. Both my kids once promised me that they’d go to college within a five mile radius of our home. She obviously hasn’t, and my son no longer plans on it either. But when they’re little they think they never want to be anywhere else but with you. And then they grow and there are a myriad of other places they also want to be.
If you’re lucky, it’s also, not instead of. If you’re lucky, they still like being with you and considering your home one of their homes. If you’re lucky.
I think I’m lucky. I know I’m lucky that she’ll be home – in my home – in less than seven hours. I’ll delight in having her here, for the few days I have her here, and then send her back home to her college life.
Maybe you can go home again. Maybe there can be many homes. Maybe home is where the heart is, as they say. And maybe your heart can find home in many places.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!