Next year, 2,190 miles will stand between me and my home. The anticipation of the distance has highlighted my existing value of home and the people that it holds. I will be going to Baylor University in Texas next year and I can already feel the phrase “I miss home” creeping up in the future. Of course I will miss home, that’s where my childhood memories were made and where lots of hard life lessons were learned. How could I not miss the smell of homemade banana bread wafting from the kitchen or the joy that the sound of my dad coming home from work brings me?
On my daily commute, I always pass by downtown Olympia. I see dozens of homeless people on street corners or sitting by one of their makeshift camps. In Olympia, volunteers counted 579 homeless people during the 2016 Thurston County homeless census. 579 people who do not have a roof over their heads or a home to surround them with love and laughter. A house is not a “given” in this life, but a sense of home; a sense of belonging, is even harder to come by and is something that cannot afford to be taken for granted.
Having a house for the sole purpose of having shelter from the elements is one distinct privilege, but taking pride in a home is very special. My home is a community where I learned how to read, talked through the hard times with my family, and felt the growing pains of change. Home will always be the sigh of relief and the hug after a long, hard day.
I know that a college dorm may not be the perfect picture of home, but it is important to understand one thing. A home doesn’t depend on where you live or the square footage, it depends on the inclusivity that is offered by people you share it with. The new friends that I will meet and the people that I will build relationships with will help me to make new memories and continue to form who I am. While there might not be the familiar comfort of home, my dorm room will provide me with new memories and life experiences that are offered from new beginnings. My house isn’t a place where I will live forever, but I am thankful that I will take my home and the mark it has left on me, wherever I go next.