Home, as we know, is one of those words that, on its own, says a thousand things at once. It is a place, a feeling, an idea; it carries its own aura, makes you long for it, causes those nostalgic flashbacks to play in your mind. It is very much a noun capable of heavy lifting, of calling out to us and touching us in a way that tugs at our heart strings.
Home is also an ever-changing thing, not always physically, but metaphysically as well. The texture, taste, and sound — all of these aspects of home are subject to change. So, too, are the nuances in feeling, in the very meaning of home.
But don't let me get caught up in fancy, poetic-ish phrases, for we do not need you rolling your eyeballs in such a way that says, "This guy thinks he is hot stuff, using all these slick words and shit." Perhaps your eyeballs would say it a little differently, but I trust you understand what I mean.
What I'm really sitting down to say here is that home has taken on different meanings for me over time. Over the last three and a half years I have had five different addresses — four of them in Ann Arbor. I spent more than half of that time period at those four residences in A2, and yet it is difficult to think of them as ever having achieved the moniker "home."
I think this is not an uncommon phenomenon amongst college students who move out of town and away from their parents to go to school, though. Where you grow up and where you planted the seeds of your first friendships and where you did all that other jazz remains "home" throughout your days as a semi-independent college student. On any given weekend during the academic year, you might tell your roommate(s) that you're going home for a couple days, and they know exactly what that means.
I feel I'm getting off track again though.. The question that is really on my mind is this: when and how does the idea of "home" shift from one's hometown to a new place? At what point does someone look around their new digs and say, "This is home now"? You can move to a new town or city, live there for sometime, and still not acquire the feeling that you've found a new home. And I believe this has almost everything to do with the people around you. If you spend a good deal of time in a new city but don't meet new people, establish new friendships, then you may feel isolated and alone — the emotional antonyms of home.
Home for me right now is still little 'ole Manistee on the shores of Lake Michigan. And though I don't think of any of my individual addresses in Ann Arbor as home, I will say that, collectively, those four residences and the relationships I've fostered with people at the University of Michigan do make A2 a sort of home for me.
Okay, then it's obvious, right? Home requires an emotional attachment; it requires people you connect with, maybe people you love; it calls for streets that you know, but not necessarily by name; it's a place that becomes more than just a place, more than just a pin on Google Maps, more than a simple destination.
I guess you could say when you're home, you just know.