Leaving Home

home
hōm/
noun
  1. the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

I’ve always lived in the same house with my mom and older brother. I’ve known three dogs and one cat in this house. Friends have stayed with us; upstairs bedrooms have been rented out. We’ve painted and installed new flooring. But one thing has always remained constant: my home is the blue house amidst the overgrown bamboo set far back from the road.

The longest I’ve ever been away from home was seven weeks at sleep-away camp the summer of 2009 as my mom recovered from hip surgery. I left as an eight-year-old and came back nine. My mom came on Visiting Day halfway through the summer, but that was the only time I saw her. My brother was with me, and we were only two hours from our hometown.

In four weeks, I’m heading an hour north to boarding school. I’m stoked. But I’m also incredibly nostalgic. Don’t get me wrong; I’m itching to leave here, and I tried for years to earn this opportunity. But I’m leaving the only place I’ve ever called home. I know which telephone pole marks two miles down my usual running route. I know the exact distance to the three schools I’ve attended in this district. I know the back ways to the grocery stores, dog park, and local diner. I see cars that I’ve passed by parked in driveways enough times to know where they live.

This town has shaped me. The people I’ve met have made me who I am. As usual, there’s a Yiddish word that says it best. Mishpocha: an entire family network comprising relatives by blood and marriage and sometimes including close friends. I’m leaving these suburbs, this mishpocha.

I am psyched. I’m excited to live in the dorm and be in small classes with kids from all over the world. I can’t wait to try rowing, and maybe write for the literary magazine or take pictures for the yearbook. My fingers are crossed that I’ll get to take voice lessons. I’m excited to start somewhere new because even the act of doing so is new to me.

But as much as I can’t wait to get out of here, I already can’t wait to come back and visit. There are adults in this town whose parents grew up here. There are tens of thousands of people who call this town home. It’s fascinating that everyone lives their different lives but they all overlap in this place. Even though I’ve had some rough years in school, people here have changed my life. Despite the bloodthirsty mosquitoes, I love the way that in the summer my house feels like a rustic cabin in the woods. I love when I run into people I know in public. I love that I’ve gotten to know a few employees at my favorite stores.

I love having somewhere that’ll always be familiar, and that’s this town. It’ll always be my first home.

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