When the beginning of June rolled around, all I could think about was going home. Home to where my family was, home to where I could sit in my room and look at old memorabilia arranged across my shelf, home to a quick game of Super Smash Bros with my brother, home to where everything was familiar again.
Flash forward to June 22 and I am already packing to leave for Norton, Massachusetts, where I would be working as a course instructor and a residential adviser for Exploration Summer Programs. As I wait for the shuttle that would take me to Wheaton College, I think for a moment: is this my new home for the next two months?
I open the door to my room in a slow but succinct movement. The first thing I notice is the barrenness of the room. Everything is grotesquely clean: the white tile floors are spotless, the beds meticulously lined up next to the walls, and the desk making an exacting right angle with the corner. I set my luggage down next to the desk, hoping that my luggage does not ruin the congruence of the room.
When a person has time to think, all emotions heighten and all feelings amplify. Sitting there on my bed, I think for a moment. Not anything in particular, but I find comfort in the fact that I am thinking in this very moment and that I am proving my existence through it. My thoughts drift into nothing, and this nothingness drifts me into a state of loneliness. I look around my room and see the walls looking back at me. The white bricks sit neatly on top of each other, and they make a geometric pattern so mathematical that I couldn’t help but chuckle at the disorientation of myself.
‘This is my home,’ I think. Sooner or later, the desk will be filled with half-eaten snacks, my laptop, the water bottle I never use, paper copies of student handouts, and sunscreen. Blankets and bed sheets will sprawl across the mattress, disrupting the perfection that used to be this room. Dirty clothes will greet the white tile floor with malice, cabinets will be met with endless stacks of towels.
However, the more I try to organize this room like my home, the more I feel distant from it. They say home is where the heart is, but you can’t understand that concept unless you locate your heart first. Is this room my home? What is home? My heart feels the weight of the questions pushing down.
The questions still encircle my mind. Eventually, I will be leaving my traditional definition of a “home” back in Washington when I enter the so-called real world in a couple of years. When I settle down at a new place, this place will then be my new “home.” Home is an ephemeral concept; it is not bound by the construction of familiarity but freed through the ever-changing cycle of our lives.
But as I lie down on my Wheaton dormitory bed and think about what my mom, my dad, and my brother are doing back in Washington, I realize I am not ready to face the harsher realities of life. I go to sleep clutching my pillow with my arms and legs, unable to let go of the old habits ingrained in me since I was young.