Twelve years old, home became a faint memory. We had lost our home, and the ceiling I now slept beneath doubled as a roof to a family I called strangers. When you’re a kid, a house is nothing but a place where you line your stuffed animals up next to each other and have a tea party with. It is nothing but a place where you snuggle up next to your parents, and watch the newest Disney movie while rain dances off the windows, sending you into a euphoric daze. To be a kid, that was what I wished for; to dance like no one was watching, and my biggest worry to be whether or not I could stay up past my bedtime.

Being homeless is an identity that i’ve struggled with since middle school, it defined me because I didn’t understand what it actually meant. Yes, it meant I lacked having somewhere to come back to every night. It meant I didn’t have a bed that I could rest my head on every night, nowhere to bring my friends to after a Friday Night Football game. But I am not homeless, I am houseless. When someone asks you what it’s like to not have somewhere to live, you can’t ever articulate it. Do you tell them you take showers in the school locker room every morning, or every piece of clothing you have is in your locker at school? I was just a kid in this big world, trying to pull myself up by my rainboots in a world that never gave me sunshine. Something you never understand until you’ve lost a stable place to live, is what living truly is.

The night sky was my home for a while. I could always rely on the stars, and the unsettling comfort of the aggressive darkness to sing me to sleep. But the best years of my life are when I realized you are your home. The only thing you can never truly lose is yourself, it doesn’t matter if you live in a 3 story house, or if you sleep underneath the stars every night. If you don’t have yourself, your own ambitions, dreams, you have nowhere. We live this life following our hearts, whatever eases the pain of uncertainty, we give ourselves completely to. I learned home wasn’t the essence of having a room meticulously decorated to match my personality, or the faint laughs of my family watching TV in the living room. My heart, my mind, and my resiliency was my home. We are given the framework of a body, but it is our job to fill it with motivation, and love, and light. And that’s what truly is home, when you realize we’re made of stardust, and not just bones.