We’ve all heard the phrase: Let’s turn this house into a home! Often times that means doing things such as personalizing where you live with furniture, photographs, and decorations. It means creating memories at this one spot that you come to at the end of a long day of work or school! As my big move to China looms just over the horizon, I’ve taken some time to think about what the word ‘home’ means to me.
Well, what does home mean to me?
That’s a much more complex question than it looks. I’m 21 years old, and after thinking of all the places I’ve called home, I end up with the number 11. Yes, there have been 11 places I’ve called home! That’s roughly a different home for every two years of life I have lived! That’s crazy! With all this experience in turning many different houses (and apartments) into homes, I’ve come up with a few personal criteria for what actually makes a house a home to me.
- My home is where I can store all my, for lack of a better word, junk!
Some live a very simple, decluttered life. I envy these people. I however, tend to keep everything! If a tangible item has a memory attached it, I typically store it in a folder or stick it on a shelf because I believe this junk represents me. Old maps or tickets from my vacations with family and friends, represent the people and places I have been in my life. Old notebooks filled with scribbles of what the quadratic formula is, represent my education. Small things like this, simply mean something to me. Though, while this is fine and dandy, I need a place to stick it all! Which is when the convenient home comes into play! When I look around at all of the things that represent my life, I feel at home.
- My home is where I am always welcome.
We’ve all had that feeling at the end of a long work day, when we are anxiously anticipating the clock to turn to 5:00PM, giving us the go ahead to scurry to our cars and drive home. It’s not until we don’t have a secure place to call home, that we realize this feeling is often times taken for granted. What if you have nowhere to go after work or school? Then what? Maybe you can find a friend to crash the night with, or possibly seek a homeless shelter. However, these places are not long-term solutions or considered homes. After experiencing this myself, I have learned the significance of what it means to feel undeniably welcome in your home, as well as learned to appreciate that feeling when it comes around.
- My home is where I feel safe, respected and loved.
There have been times in the past where I walk into my home, and feel very afraid. For a while, I assumed this was part of what a home felt like, as if being scared in the place where you turn to each night was normal. However, over time, I realized that no, I should not feel unsafe at home, and if I do, I should do something to change it. After living in many other places that provided me with much love and dependability, my notion was confirmed. A sense of safety, calmness and love is now a requirement for my home.
- My home does not need to have other living beings residing there with me.
When I was younger, I always pictured myself living at my childhood home, as most of us probably did at some point. When I became a teenager, I was very adamant I would never live alone. However, in the last home I had, I in fact, lived by myself! Surprisingly, I was content and happy. In reflection, my happiness was most certainly because that place fulfilled all my requirements for a home. I always felt welcomed, safe, loved, respected, and yes, it was big enough to store all of my things!
Looking back on it all, ironically, I learned what I needed from a home by living alone. There was no one to argue with, belittle me or make me feel afraid at home, because the only person I had to deal with, was me! And let me tell ya, I always welcome, respect, and love me! So, in looking ahead at turning Jiangshan, Zhejiang, China into my new home for a year, I become excited. Not only excited that this will by my 12th and counting home, but because it’s an unknown place where I get to make some fantastic new memories! I can picture it right now. Walking up to my new apartment somewhere in Jiangshan, opening the door with the biggest smile on my face, and telling myself, “Heather, let’s make this house a home!”
Until next time,