Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

As I sit here curled up on my somewhat vile cloth seat, knees tucked under my chin as I try to drown out the loud buzz of the engine with the soothing sounds of Maná, I look out the window, over the wing and below the clouds, and start to see the bright lights of New York. “I’m home!” I think, yet with a more melancholy feeling than I intended.

Where is home?

This weekend I travelled back to Chicago for the first time since moving to New York. Home. I went home. But then… I returned home? Strange.

Upon my return to the Windy City, I eagerly looked out the window, searching for familiarity, as my dad drove to our house: the world’s best skyline, the El, the drugstore on my corner, my home. I tuned the radio to my favorite station (which I may or may not stream online constantly in New York). What a relief it was to hear Mega 95.5 still played the same hits as last month!

I entered my house with a big hug from my mom and abundant jumps and licks from my dog. Everything felt so comfortable and relaxed. While eating my midnight pasta snack, I briefed my parents on my new adventures and friendships and lessons.

Before I knew it, bedtime arrived, and my mom opened the linen closet to give me towels. What? No towels in my bathroom? “It’s like you’re a guest,” she joked. Honestly, I barely felt like a guest; I’ve been away from home for much longer periods, only this time, I had another home to which to return at the end of my stay.

I slept well in the bed I’ve had since I jumped out of my crib, and spent the next couple days rejoicing with friends and family, glad to be in each other’s company as brief as the visit may be. My best friends and I spent Saturday night convulsing in giggles, curled up together as if nothing had ever changed. Yet at the end of the evening, when we said goodbye, we realized it had more permanence tonight than during the past eighteen years we had spent as neighbors.

“I’ll come visit soon!” The promises and blown kisses and tight hugs were overwhelming as we each departed for our own respective homes, scattered throughout the country. The homes we made for ourselves, the homes no one else had seen, the homes grow to love more every day, distancing ourselves from the places we called home less than a month earlier.

As I prepared to leave my own family to return to my new life, I felt grateful for my weekend back in the homeland. While my few days flew by, I spent every moment appreciating where I came from, what I was becoming, and who I could be. My love for my hometown grew, if not for the home-cooked food and quality time spent with my poodle, than for my ability to always feel welcome and comforted. To know that wherever I live, whoever I’m with, and whatever I do, there is always a special place for me in the Midwest, where the radio stations continue playing Juanes and my family and friends are always waiting with a hug.