Monday, August 31, 2015

Home is where the heart is

Home is where the heart is.

It's a phrase we've all probably heard hundreds of times and shrugged off with a "yeah, yeah, I get it already." I think for those of us who have never really moved away from home, it is a phrase that still has the same answer as it did growing up.

Home is where the heart is? Oh, that's my house or the town where I grew up. At least, that's what I always thought. I always thought home was the place where I grew up. The place where I still got angry about that spot where I had a bicycle accident, about the place where I ate one a few too many birthday cakes. It was the place where I went to school, had my first car, but most importantly, it was the place where my family lived. Home was where mom and dad were and I didn't have to worry because I had my family there.

Moving away last year really started to kick into gear a shift. Where was home? I still longed for what I thought was home. I still longed for my bed in my parent's house (despite having been more or less out of their house during college), I wanted mom's food and to hear the noisiness of 5 other people as I tried to cuddle into a quiet corner and read a book.

When I moved back to the states last January and once more took up residence in my parent's house, I found myself ecstatic to be surrounded by all those things I had been longing for. Mom's food (which will never get old), my family, the noise, the energy, the place that was home. Or, was it?

You see, I had moved back home once before after a brief stint up at an art university in Portland that was way out of my price range. I had, to an extent, felt then that something just wasn't quite the same, but I didn't really understand it. Last January though, it didn't take long to come to terms with what was wrong. I didn't fit anymore. There wasn't really a place there for me. Not because they said so, but because I felt out of place.

I had grown, as a person. I had changed and the life that came with living there wasn't suited to me anymore. Being home just wasn't the same. I didn't know where the mixer was. Someone always had their music up too loud. Chores? Don't even get me started on that. More than that though, how I saw home wasn't the same. Let's just say in all my reminiscing I had used a pretty thick set of rose colored glasses. What I thought of as home wasn't the same. I didn't KNOW what home was anymore. It wasn't what I thought, what I remembered.

This wasn't home. I was lost. I didn't know what to do. I wasn't home.

In coming abroad and living in Japan, I had experienced so much. I had laughed, I had cried (like, a lot), I had pushed my limits and I had changed as a person. But, when I packed up to go home, I had forgotten something very important. My heart.

The reason home didn't feel like home anymore is because my heart wasn't there. Being there, in Oregon, in my hometown was boring, uninteresting. I was unhappy. Everything was both exactly the same and yet different in just such a way that I was out of place. It was like I was just a fraction of a second out of time with everyone and everything. It wasn't the place I longed for. It wasn't home.

As much as I want to explain this concept, home is where the heart is, it is difficult. As I see it now, home is not the place where you grew up (okay, maybe for some people it is), but it is the place that makes you happy. It is where, even on the worst days imaginable you can come home at the end of the day and know tomorrow will be okay. It is where you are happy, where you feel like you belong.

For some people that might be where you grew up, and that's fine, for other people it is being with a certain person or group of people, but for me, it is a place. Not so specific as to a single town (though I have my preference), but a whole country. I feel like as long as I am in Japan, that I will be okay. That I can succeed and that in the end, this is the best place for me because I am content every day of my life here.

Yes, there are homesick days, and sick days and days you just want to cry for no reason (or because they don't sell Butterfingers at the supermarket), but the good days and the good things outweigh the bad immensely. I have found, the longer I'm here, the less I miss back home. When I do miss something, it's usually being able to spend time with a person (or pizza, or Butterfingers, but we'll get to that later).

It's not that I dislike Oregon, I LOVE Oregon, but my heart has found a new home wedged here between the gazillion hidden shrines, the culture, the food and the people. I simply can't imagine moving back to Oregon or the U.S. That would mean giving up who I am and becoming only half of a person again. I love my family. I miss them a lot. But, they support me because this is where I am whole. Where I am one hundred percent my best and they want me to succeed.

So I'm going to go ahead and wrap up this whole long ramble by telling you that home is so much more than just a place or being with the right person. It is what makes you whole, no matter what life throws your way. Go out and find it.

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