I’ve had the privilege of calling Florida home for the past few months, and in a few short weeks I will be getting on a plane and flying back home to Canada. When we think of home we usually think of the general definition, “the place where one lives”, but I think there is a lot more to what home means, and what it feels like.
The other day my roommates and I pulled into the driveway after going to see Love, Simon (it’s great – go see it) and one of them said “we’re home”. Which was followed with a gasp because usually we call the places we are from home. But now this place we’ve been living feels a little like home too.
If you’re curious, I live in Indialantic, Florida. It took me half my internship to memorize the zip code, but I finally did it. It’s a town where I have a favourite ice cream place, and a favourite breakfast place, I have rituals of pizza and Starbucks at the beach, and it is where the little coral house I share with my roommates has become our home.
I’ve been thinking about how things, other than houses or buildings, can develop a feeling of home. Small sensory things like flavours, smells and sounds can remind me of home. If you don’t know what I mean, I’ve talked about maple syrup incessantly since I moved to Florida, and don’t get me wrong – I love maple syrup, but I didn’t talk about it on a daily basis in Canada. I get maple donuts from the donut shop across from my office more often than I would like to admit. Songs have that same nostalgic power, they can transport you through time and space. One minute I can be in the present, and the next I can be brought back to memories of dance recitals or road trips.
I think the biggest thing that develops a feeling of home is people. The lyrics Home is wherever I’m with you come to mind when I think of people feeling like home. So does the phrase, “home is where the heart is”. When we are away from people we love, part of our heart is with them. I think home is found in relationships, and the sensory things we crave are to remind us of the people we have memories with.
The difference between a house and a home, is that a home isn’t always a building, it is the people who make places special to begin with. When I miss home, it’s not the house I call a home that my heart yearns for. It is the family and friends that make my hometown special.
As I prepare to fly back north, I’ve been reflecting on the parts of life down here that have felt like home, and what I know I’ll miss most when I’m home. I love my little beach town I’ve called home. I like my local donut shop where I get lattes on long Monday afternoons, I enjoy that I live an eight minute walk from the ocean, and that I feel like a local when I know where I’m going in the grocery store. Building routines and finding favourite restaurants has been fun – but the things that make this place feel like home aren’t things.
I know when I go home the things my heart will miss most will not be the beachside Starbucks (but it’ll be a close second), it will be the friendships I’ve made with my roommates and coworkers. These people who I’ve learned from, been inspired by and who encourage me to grow. This place feels like home because of the community I’ve been immersed in. I can’t bring them all back with me – but I know when I miss them I’ll eat some tacos and listen to their favourite songs and be grateful for the time we’ve spent together.
A little challenge for you: think about the people that make home feel like home to you – tell them how much they matter and give them a big ol’ hug.