When I think of home, I think of being comfortable. It’s where I can be myself. I can wear sweats, throw my hair in a bun, and read a book while snuggling with my dog. I feel safe in my home and thankfully, I feel secure that I have a home to come back to.

During Covid, our home became so much more. It was school for me and my sisters, work for my mom, and it was our “social life” because we couldn’t go out anywhere. My oldest sister came home early from college. It felt like our noisy, crowded house from childhood again. The sounds of laughter and sometimes fighting since we were all three sharing a bathroom again. We were all able to sit down to dinner together and snuggle up on the couch to watch a movie because our busy lives with school, sports, jobs and friends was put on hold. The noise and chaos on some days was overwhelming, but mostly made our home happier and more fun. We were all so thankful for the comforts of our home during that strange time. We had room to spread out and get our school done, internet to stay connected and the safety of our house to stay healthy.

I feel at home away from my house as well. It’s the comfort I feel when I walk into my grandparent’s house and smell dinner cooking on a Sunday afternoon, knowing my cousins will be there to laugh with. Home is also the feeling of going to my favorite places in town like grabbing a chai tea at S&J’s or walking into the chlorine scented pool building at River Ridge where I’ve had swim practices for the last 6 years. These places feel safe and they welcome me like I’m coming home.

The last couple of years have really made me feel grateful for my home and the people in my life that make me comfortable. There were so many people impacted by Covid that didn’t have safe, secure living situations. I empathize with the people in the Ukraine who are being forced from their homes, family and friends. When they leave their home, they aren’t missing the walls and concrete of their house, they miss the safety, security and comfort they are leaving behind.

I’ll be leaving for college in the fall and I’ll leave the safety and comfort of my home to make a new, temporary home in my dorm room at Oregon State University. When I think about what will make it feel like home, it’s not the things I’ll bring to the room, but the way it will feel. The new friends that I feel safe with, the comfort of my favorite blanket on a cold night, the pumpkin spice smell of making my chai teas in my room, and the security of knowing that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, my family is a phone call or a FaceTime away.