This weekend, I braved a nine hour car trip to travel home to Missouri for a family wedding. As I drove away with Milwaukee in my rearview mirror, I was sad that I would be away from my beloved Marquette for three whole days. I was gone all summer; wasn’t that enough? Though it may have seemed impossible to me freshman year, over the past six semesters, Marquette and Milwaukee have become my home.
Nine hours later, however, as I spotted the Kansas City skyline peeking over the Missouri River for the first time in more than a month, my heart swelled up with happiness for being home. So what is home? I wondered. Is it possible to have more than one?
The place you grow up shapes an important part of who you are. You learn the values you will take with you into adulthood from the place you grow up and the people there who raise you. So what happens when you leave that place? You don’t forget everything about it and take on a completely new identity because you live somewhere else. Well, some people might, but I definitely did not.
It wasn’t easy to leave the comfort of family, friends and a city I know as well as the back of my hand. But I did, and I am so glad I did. That experience played a huge role in shaping me into the individual I am today.
As I prepare to graduate at the end of this year (fingers crossed) and search for a job and a place to go next, I am preparing to leave a home behind and make a new one somewhere else. It’s exciting for me to think that I will meet new people, find new places to explore and wonder what my next home will teach me.
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say when people ask me where I live or where I am from. When people ask that, they are often looking for an answer that will tell them something about me. If I just say “Kansas City” or just say “Milwaukee,” it doesn’t paint the whole picture. For a while, I have struggled to find a way to embrace both places as home. Like many things in life, there is no perfect distinction, no short answer. Realizing that is important when trying to define “home.”
I dislike the phrase “home away from home” because it implies that my second home isn’t really a place I love, it’s just a stand-in for the place that I’m from. Marquette is not a stand-in home. This school and this city have become so welcoming to me that, no matter what happens after next May, no matter where I end up next, they will always hold equal billing in my heart with the city where I grew up. I have learned so much over the past three years here, and I am learning more every passing week.
The Jesuits say their home is the road, but I make my homes in the stops along it. My birth certificate will always say Missouri and my diploma will always say Marquette. And I couldn’t be happier to call both those places home.