Living somewhere doesn’t necessarily make it a home. Home is the memories created there and the people with whom you share them. Most people see their home as a place where they grew up or started their family but I feel it is much deeper than that. In 2017, we had a house fire that forced our family to live in different places for about three months. During this separation, my parents and sister lived in a hotel and I stayed at my grandparent’s house.

While I was staying with my grandparents, I started to notice the little things about living at our home versus their home. Differences ranged from physically having my parents present to the smells of the foods I had gotten so used to smelling. The different faces, styles of cooking, and even the different rooms that I was surrounded by during that time were unsettling, and I never felt quite right there. One of my fondest memories of being at home is the smell of my mother’s cooking; Mom has made dinner almost every night for as long as I can remember, and during this time I never got a single meal prepared by her. I hadn’t got to spend any time in my room, nor had I gotten to look at any of my memorabilia from past events or times with my friends. I just felt this disconnection from everything that I felt made me feel at home.

When we finally got to move back into the house, many renovations had been made. Walls were taken out, rooms were readjusted, and our back porch and kitchen was fully remodeled. All of our pictures and belongings were boxed up, and some still aren’t even unpacked. It felt like an entirely different house. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it after spending so much time away from what I thought of as home. As we got settled back into the house, old habits stated to take back over and old routines started to occur again, and my mother cooking dinner one night made me realize something.

What I realized was that even though I had lost so much time with my family and our physical home had changed almost beyond recognition, home isn’t so much of the physical place to which you have grown accustomed. Home is the people that make you feel comfortable, that you love and trust, and all of the memories that you’ve made and continue to create and experience with them. The bond with the people you live with makes your house a home, not just the building itself.