I’ve never really thought of home as a place. Despite living in the same house for eight years, I never felt like the house itself was all that important. Home was a feeling, not a building. Sitting on my window seat, playing guitar late into the night - that was home. Eating cereal in the kitchen after everyone else had gone to bed, and pondering the mysteries of the universe - that was home. I’ll admit I’m rather fond of those particular spots, but the home-ness of those things doesn’t belong to a specific point in space. Playing guitar at church, in my mind, is more ‘home’ than say, studying for a test in my own room.
After two years of college, I’m starting to think a bit differently. Home isn’t so much a feeling - home is people. My house was (and still is) home because my family lives there. Bakersfield was home because my closest friends lived there. I think about when I was younger and my friend Bobby moved out of the neighborhood. That street never felt the same - it used to be my own, but without the person who made it that way, it was just a street on which my house happened to be located.
At first I avoided referring to my dorm room as “home”, but after a while I realized that the friends I had in Bakersfield were now scattered all over the world, and the friendships I was forming in Atlanta were becoming strong enough to make it deserving of the label. Of course Bakersfield was still capital-H Home, but I couldn’t rightfully claim that Georgia Tech wasn’t home either.
But the longer I stay away from Bakersfield, the weaker that tie becomes. I never think of Naperville, where I spent the first ten years of my life, as home, because the people I knew there are all gone now, and besides that I don’t really know them anymore after ten years apart. It’s strange to think that last year may have been the last time I will ever go home for the summer, but in many ways the Bakersfield of May 2012 was already a different place from the home I left in August 2011. The place I think of when I say “going home” doesn’t exist anymore except in my memory.
Will I call Barcelona home by the end of these three months? I might - this city already feels so familiar, despite my having been here less than 24 hours, and I’ve already caught myself saying “go home” when I meant “go back to my room at the Residencia”. But maybe that’s just because my idea of home has weakened. Home is where I go when I’m done with everything else for the day. Home is where I sleep and where I plug in my laptop for the night. It’s the place where I live, not the place where I belong. When I say “home” now, I mean something temporary. But maybe there’s something to that - I remember the old hymn my Uncle Kurt used to sing: “this world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.”
Maybe I’ll settle down sometime down the road. Maybe I’ll hop from place to place forever. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Ultimately every place is temporary until I get to the place Jesus prepared. But the people I call home - they matter. They are eternal.