Currently my room is a model of organized chaos, and would seem claustrophobic to anyone but me. The carpet floor is kept clear, but the desk and shelves that wall in this clearing are piled with clutter. Yet, to me, it is natural and familiar.

A stranger might be drawn most immediately to what books I have on my shelf, or what odds and ends I have lying on my desk. When I look around my room, I see an entire history. I see a bunk bed that is no longer there. I see stickers of ancient Egypt pasted to the closet doors, since replaced. I see a menagerie of stuffed animals, now packed away. I see a collection of dollar store toys I was overly attached to, now gone who-knows-where. To a stranger this list of artifacts will mean little. But to me they are a lifetime: of imaginary games played with my brother and cousins; of hours spent scribbling stick figures onto sheets of printer paper I stapled together and called “comic books.”

Today, the rest of my house is either transitional space or an extension of my habitat. But every once in a while, I can see these other rooms from a different angle, and remember them too. My loft becomes a place of games, boisterous play, and boundless imagination. I can see my brother and I in his room, abetted by cousins, wielding toy guns against villainous adults. My parent’s room is where I am read aloud. My backyard is a place for roughhousing.

And now I am going to go away. I will miss my home.

I am going to a college several hours away from my house. That might not seem like much, but just a week’s vacation has always felt like an eternity to me. It does not take much to get me feeling homesick. But that’s not exactly what I mean when I say I will miss my home. I also have a stubborn fondness for the actual physical place my house represents: I like how the paint is chipped there and that strange painting has always been hung there. But that’s not what I mean either.

What I will really miss is my family—my brother who used to play with me, my mom who used to read to me, and my dad who used to take me on fishing trips. Quiet figures, alive figures, annoying figures, permanent figures. Home is something I have never had to think of losing. It is an innate fixture in everyone’s life, something easily taken for granted, something ridiculously common. Home is family, friends, people; and I think I have had the luck of having very good people. College will take me hundreds of miles away from my family. I will be physically separated from them, and I will miss them, but that will not mean I have lost them. Home is something I will never have to think of losing. Home never goes away.