It was a normal Winter Session-at-home sort of day, a cold, overcast Ohio morn’. All of my non-UD friends were already back on their respective campuses. My UD pals were hours away. Getting the mail had become the main point of excitement in my day.
As I searched the house for something — I don’t quite recall what — I suddenly heard myself saying, “Oh no, I left [insert mundane object] back home!”
But wait a second — I was home, wasn’t I?
As the Twilight Zone theme began to play in my head, I suddenly realized that “home” in this instance referred to my dorm back on campus. Throughout the break, a similar scenario played out quite frequently. However, now that I’m back on campus, “back home” means Ohio, and the Twilight Zone theme has topped my mental playlist yet again.
In seesawing from living in one state to another, “home” has apparently taken on new layers of meaning for me. Yes, the term looks very nice stitched onto a decorative pillow, but in having to come to terms with what exactly “home” is to me, the concept has become highly complex
What constitutes “home”? Is “home” a building, a location, a state of mind, a place where we find ourselves most frequently in a given timeframe? Or perhaps it’s all of these and more? Can we have more than one “home”? And if so, what is it that makes UD feel like a place I could call “home,” even unconsciously, despite my living here for only a handful of consecutive months?
After giving it some thought, I’ve come to understand that “home” isn’t just about geographic location— it’s about the people and things around you. It’s where you feel comfortable being yourself and can pursue whatever makes you tick without hesitation or reservation.
I have met the most incredible people at this university and in the Honors College, both from Delaware and not, and have had the pleasure of learning their fascinating stories. I have had so many new experiences, have seen so many interesting places, and have eaten way too much ice cream. Sure, I may be far from my family here, but I can never really say that I feel completely alone, even when I’m on my own, and in being able to explore both my own interests and the world around me, perhaps it’s only natural that I feel at home here.
Don’t get me wrong — Ohio is a cool place, even though most people at UD have this intriguing tendency to assume that my home state is some sort of Midwestern void (to be fair, I’ve heard a fair share of cracks at Delaware from my Ohio peers). And there’s still a ton of places for me to explore in the state of Delaware. There are even places on campus I still have yet to see, and perhaps it is these continued mysteries that sometimes make my unconscious referrals to UD as “home” so astonishing to me.
And what’s especially amazing is that whenever I get back to a certain “home,” no matter how long I’ve been at the other, I immediately get back into the swing of things as if I’m pressing “play” on a long-paused movie. In Ohio, I quickly grew used to the lack of revving engines in my neighborhood, and back on campus, I never seem to lose my supernatural ability to completely zone out as I walk and still end up at my desired destination.
That’s not to say that my two “homes” always reconcile perfectly with each other.
Maybe I confuse people when I proudly wear my cherry blossom pink “Delaware” sweatshirt in Ohio, and I’m sure when I wear my YoUDee blue “Cincinnati” sweatshirt in Delaware that reactions are similar. When I get nostalgic for Graeter’s, the legendary ice cream of my hometown, the UDairy Black Raspberry flavor (sans the meteor-sized dark chocolate chunks) just doesn’t cut it, and the realization of the rarity of decent crab houses in Ohio can be disheartening. Occasionally I have to explain the intricacies of my Midwestern homeland (i.e., that it actually exists) to people on campus, and in some cases I have to deal with people’s surprise, albeit good-natured, that attending college in Delaware is actually pretty neat.
But confusion aside, I feel that I’m very fortunate to have two places I can refer to as “home,” even though it’s proved to be something of a headache every now and then in terms of decoding where precisely it is I’m referring to. Although the two places are very different and necessitate a nine-hour drive between them (and that’s without stops), they’ve both helped me realize the meaning of “home,” and now I cannot help but anticipate the future places I will have the luck of referring to as such. At the very least, Ohio and UD will both be there for me.