I call myself a perpetual nomad because I never live in the same place for very long at once. Even though I’m moving between the same house and various dorms on the same campus, I never feel like I have a place to call home. At first, this bothered me a little bit. Then I came to the perspective that home could be a person, or a feeling. But recently I’ve come to a different philosophy. Home is where your feet are.
Pinterest is where I first came across this sentiment, and it immediately resonated with me. I didn’t need to have one physical place to call home. I didn’t need to tie my feelings of home to another person. I didn’t need to leave my “home” somewhere that I would rarely be. Home could be wherever I was at any given time. Home could be my dorm, home could be my grandma’s house. Home could be the hiking trails of Rock Creek Park.
Home has always been a complicated concept for me. When I was a kid I would sit on the stairs in my house, wrap my arms around my knees, and rock back and forth saying “I want to go home, I want to go home” to myself, even though I was home. I just didn’t feel at home. In middle school, when my parents sold the house I grew up in, I was determined that the apartment I moved to would never be home. But it did become a home. Then college came and I lost that home as well. For a time home was tied to a significant person, and the feeling of being warm and safe.
My doctor in high school once told me that how much she had enjoyed medical school was tied to the experience of moving around. She went to school in the Caribbean and for a while home was wherever she could put her pillow down for the night. That particular piece of conversation always stuck with me.
As mentioned earlier, I’ve always had a touch of wanderlust. I used to fantasize about being a forensic anthropologist in high demand and flying all over the world with nothing but a duffel bag of clothes and my ipod. Home would be wherever I could lay my pillow.
Reminding myself that “home is where my feet are” helps when I start to feel alone, or out of place, or uncertain. Wherever I am, that’s home. Because of my lack of one “home base” I live a very flexible lifestyle, and I really (really) don’t like uncertainty. The “home is where your feet are” philosophy really helps me with that though because I remember to treat wherever I’m living as my home, not just a temporary spot to lay my pillow. It helps me fight that feeling of uncertainty.
Knowing that I’ll be changing locations after graduation is scary, but it’s tempered by “home is where your feet are” enough that my excitement is larger than my anxiety. Which is tough, my anxiety levels are often pretty high.
On twitter and instagram I’ve been taking pictures of my feet in various places and hashtagging it #homeiswhereyourfeetare. So far they’re mostly here in Missouri, and mostly in my neighborhood/territory. Eventually, that’s gonna change. Eventually they’ll be in DC. Eventually maybe they’ll be in Chicago or Indianapolis or Colorado Springs or Grand Forks, North Dakota. But for now, home is Missouri. Home is The Peninsula, and the poolside; home is the bench with my book and my dog. Home is driving the alleys of my town. For now.
(click through for a high-res, desktop-sized version to use as wallpaper!)