I’ve never known what it’s like to have to pick up all of my belongings and move. Instead I’ve cocooned myself in the same dented four walls, on the same weed-infested piece of property, in the same maze of a neighborhood, with the same loving people all my life. And I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Each surface and every wall is laced with a remembrance of times long forgotten and an anticipation for times to come. The front door waits patiently with its worn metal handle, the paint long rubbed away by countless embraces of hands to its chilled surface. The sturdy piano stands worn and ready – the most secluded keys dust coated and scratched, waiting for a tune to be plucked from memory. The leather couches sit comfortably – memory implanted stains dotting their surface which even the heaviest cleaner won’t remove. The walls peacefully guard the fortress of my home with steady determance.

There are many types of houses: apartments, duplexes, townhouses – the standard four walls filled with people. But there are even more types of homes. A garage can be a home. An alley can be a home. A town can be a home. And through all that, it’s the people and memories you see and create everyday that make such places a home.

It’s the distinguishing flaws. It’s the captured memories. It’s the sparked emotions. It’s the inhabitants. The crack in the ceiling, which no one knows how it got there, makes this house my home. The pencil-marked walls, displaying a scattering of heights, makes this house my home. The door that swings open without anyone’s help makes this house my home. The door that swings shut without so much as a nudge makes this house my home. The star-dusted ceiling that greets me after sleep makes this house my home.

The word “home” is singular. But the places we choose to label with it can be many. Dancing in the rain. Swimming in the summer. Reading in the shade. Long rainy nights with branches snapping in the wind. Muddied soccer fields with the echo of laughter from games long passed. Grandma’s warm embraces with the smell of sweet potatoes drifting from the kitchen. These are my homes.

In three short years I will be gone. Moving into a new chapter of my life, away from what I’m accustomed to. I will be given the chance to find myself a new beginning. A new adventure. A new home. Despite that, in the times I do return – Christmas, birthdays, vacations – this house will still be my home. Because home is love. Home is familiarity. Home is belonging. And a house can be that too.