I usually like to keep things pretty light around here but something has been weighing on my heart for the past week or so that I just had to share. And it has to do with belonging.
As Henri and I were boarding our flight back to Boston last weekend, we overheard one of the passengers ask another “are you headed towards home or away?” I turned to Henri and jokingly said “Good thing they didn’t ask us, that would be a complicated answer!” Even though I had been kidding as I sat there, drifting in and out of sleep for the next five hours, I realized how much truth there was in that statement and I began to think…
… where is home?
… where do I belong?
These two questions are really hard for someone who has basically lived a bi-coastal life for the last 6 years. They are questions I have been wrestling with ever since the summer I left for college.
I am a born and raised New Englander – the first 18 years of my life were spent cheering for the Sox in the summer, apple picking in the fall, braving snow storms in the winter, and enjoying the smells and sounds of new life in the spring. These seasons were the rhythm of my life and every fall that passed in California when I missed the leaves changing colors, every time I listened to “Let It Snow” with the windows rolled and the warm, 90-degree air blowing through my hair I missed Massachusetts like crazy.
But as we all do, I adapted to my surroundings when I moved to California for college. I discovered the beauty of farmer’s markets, realized that I had never had “real” Mexican food before in my life, went surfing, and was even convinced to try sushi (and found that I actually liked it!). I found the love of my life my freshman year of college and just a month later was welcomed into his family with open arms.
Both Massachusetts and California feel like home – I have family, friends and have built a life in both. But when I am in either place there is always something that makes me feel like I don’t belong. In California I’ll say “wicked cool” and the person I’m talking too just gapes at me. And in MA I’ll ask someone at the grocery store where the queso fresco is and they honestly have no idea what I’m talking about. It is almost as if there is too much Boston in me to be Californian and too much California in me to still be a “true” Bostonian.
After we returned back from our trip for Monet’s graduation I was worried that I don’t belong in Boston anymore. When we were back in California there were things that just felt so natural about being there. It felt a lot like home. For some reason, during the 6 years I lived in California I went through periods when I was so frustrated to be “stuck” in California but the truth is living in California is an important part of my life story.
As I have been thinking about these questions and processing everything over the past week I realized something that brought me a lot of peace. Home doesn’t have to be a physical location and it is possible to belong in many places. While Boston and California are both so different from each other, they have both shaped me and made me the unique person that I am and I wouldn’t change that for the world!
So where is home? Home is wherever my hubby is and we are surrounded by family and loved ones. Home is wherever we have been placed for the time being, and where we choose to build our lives. Right now that is Massachusetts but who knows – one day it could be California again!
And where do I belong? I belong with family and friends that accept me for who I am and who I have become as a result of my journey through life. As long as I have the confidence to be myself – a Norwegian girl from Boston, who likes her Mexican food spicy, is obsessed with fall, desperately wants to own a paddle board, and loves using a mixture of three languages in one sentence – I think I’ll be just fine!
What does home mean to you?
Where do you belong?