The moment I stepped through the door, I knew that I was home. The distinctly autumnal scent of a Yankee Candle seemed to saturate the entire house, filling me with an inexplicable sensation of warmth. As I gathered my bags and started down the hallway, I was met by the familiar sound of my dog incessantly barking and by the volume of the living room TV, which was, as always, turned just five notches too high.
Upon entering the kitchen, my sister’s face lit up with excitement and my brother rushed to embrace me in one of his notoriously tight bear hugs. I smiled and let out a deep sigh of relief—only then, did it occur to me that I’d been holding my breath at all.
Regardless of who you are or where you come from, there is something nurturing about returning to those people and places that once comprised your everyday reality. Throughout my visit home this past holiday weekend, I found myself overcome with gratitude for those luxuries that I had so long overlooked in the past—a shower that I could enter with bare feet, a fridge full of fresh fruit, a cool, air-conditioned room.
For the first time since school started this year, I felt as though I could totally let go and immerse myself in the comfortable familiarity of my “old life.” I did not need to think about what assignments I had due next week, how I would squeeze in time to go to the plex, or who would be hosting the next football tailgate. For the time being, I could simply enjoy the company of old friends and family, allowing myself to revert to the mannerisms and tendencies that constitute my “high school self.”
In doing so, however, it occurred to me that both my character and my life at Boston College were different than they were at home. This contrast startled me and led me to briefly question my experience. Have I not been true to myself at school? Am I as comfortable and content on campus as I believe myself to be? Though I had never entertained such doubts before, I couldn’t help but notice that there were stark differences between my “home away from home” and the place that I was raised. Everything from the foods that I ate to the way that I joked with my friends was different.
Within moments of returning to campus, however, my uncertainty dissolved. Reunited with my friends in the fluorescent-lit dining hall, laughing over the mundane meal of grilled chicken and rice that we eat every night, there is no place I’d rather be.
There is a unique element of comfort that comes with being surrounded by people your own age. This feeling is naturally very different than the comfort which a Yankee Candle or a home-cooked meal provides. Nonetheless, I believe it is one which most BC students have experienced.
A large part of this “comfort” is due to the fact that everyone on campus shares the responsibilities of classes and schoolwork. We all inevitably have something in common with one another, whether that be a shared sense of empathy during finals week or a common desire to do well in class. Though these are general examples, such similarities contribute to the connectedness that exists across campus and to the collective sense of familiarity which binds the student body.
The question that follows is, is it possible for a feeling to become a home? Is a sense of connection and rapport enough to convince one that they belong in a specific place?
Reflecting on my experience at BC thus far, I have come to believe that “home” is a concept which can be carried with us wherever we go. It is the sense of affinity you feel for a person when you allow them to be completely and wholeheartedly themselves. It is the rush of appreciation you experience in a conversation when you realize a friend understands exactly how you think. It is the unanticipated flash of awareness that you are deeply loved by someone in the world.
In every season of our lives, this concept will manifest differently. In every relationship, we will find ourselves a slightly different person. With the passage of time, there will come new scents, sights and sounds—a new and unpredictable reality that will comprise our idea of home.
How refreshing it is, to have the ability to experience this in multiple places—in both the fluorescent-lit dining hall on a Sunday night and in a candlelit kitchen, surrounded by family.
To know that we can adapt and connect to different people and places is a testimony to our innate capacity to expand and to grow—planting ourselves and reaping fruit in as many spaces as we can.
Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor