Senses of Home

My sister left on Friday, and I just got off FaceTime with my parents. I miss home right now, and it reminded me of the column I wrote about two weeks ago. Thought I’d share.

I take a step outside the cool arms of air conditioning. The blue brightness makes my eyes squint even behind my dark sunglasses. Twenty different shades of green are at my sandaled feet. My hair is flying behind me in a light breeze that doesn’t quite mask the heavy humidity. I walk out of the shade and into the burning sunlight that is felt in every cell of my body. Vivid colors and heat on my bare skin. This is what I see when I think of home.

Ah the Sunshine State. I grew up in these suburban streets, just a short drive away from the beach, close enough for adventures in the city jungles of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. There truly is nothing like your hometown. It doesn’t matter how many places you visit, travel to, or settle down in. Where you grow up defines you in a way nothing else can. It takes an early hold on your heart and writes its secrets in your veins.

Home. This one word will evoke a world of flashbacks and sensations, a different feeling for each individual. At some point, the word will take on multiple meanings as you try and merge the senses of the past and the present. When you invest your heart and soul into a place, its essence will become the lifeblood that keeps you going. The more places you invest in, the stronger you will be moving forward.

The cold doorknob turns in my hand, and I hop lightly down the three steps into the brisk autumn air. Shades of orange and pink that don’t exist in the English language paint the sky a brilliant sunset. The trees whistle a song to the wind that rests on their branches. The marriage of history and modernity is celebrated in the buildings that surround me. In the street, cars fight like schoolchildren for their place in the road. Soft chatter. Horns beeping. Buses exhaling. Above my head, my lighthouse has just turned on: the square CitGo sign smiles at me, always waiting to guide me home.

Boston. My latest definition of home. Sometimes it takes a while to adapt to a place, but it has been less than a year for me and I already find myself melting in its essence. I feel the city life pumping in my heart, emphasizing my experiences and reminding me there is still so much I haven’t seen. I take one look outside my brownstone window, and I know this place will have as strong a presence within me as the blazing warmth from my hometown.

These are my two somewhat conflicting definitions of home. They swirl in my heart and blend together. I hear the sounds of the city that has changed me, taught me, and defined me in so short a time. I feel the hot sand on my skin and the salty ocean atmosphere in my lungs that relaxes my mind and my senses. The opposite ends of the East coast that play tug of war with the strings of my heart.

And it is wonderful. The sensations fuse in their extremes and create this unique definition made for me and no one else. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. One day, I will move away again. I will make my home in a new place. It will be completely unfamiliar and vibrating in its mysteries. Time will pass. I will breathe my life into my new environment and let it charge me with all it has to offer. As I change and adapt once again, it will slowly begin to add its own colors to my heart. The definition will grow wider and more meaningful. New faces will smile at me, new memories will grab my senses and become the images I see when I close my eyes.

A quote to live by: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Do not be afraid to make multiple homes. Let your surroundings define you. Invest yourself in new places and let them become as much a part of you as you are of them. Create these senses of home in every place you give your heart to. And most importantly, never forget the home that started it all, whose voice resounds louder than any in the script of your life.

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