According to my phone, 100 Hempstead Turnpike, Hofstra University is my home. Every time I get into my car it greets me with a notification telling me how long it will take me to get "home." My mother was not happy when she heard this. "Why would you make that your home?" she asked. I tried to explain that it was out of my control, that my phone determined Hofstra as my home because that's where I parked my car the majority of the year. She did not accept this explanation and was genuinely offended that our home address was not my home.
But truthfully, at age 21, I don't feel like I have an actual home. Bits and pieces of me are scattered in two places and I don't know which I belong the most to. The house I grew up in is a form of a home, with my little handprints decorating the rocks outside in pink and purple paint. So are a few other places on Cape Cod. Old Silver beach, a place that has seen me grow up. A place that's seen sun kissed skin and wide smiles on warm summer days, as well as tear stained cheeks on brisk winter nights. The Chart Room, where I've spent every summer working since I was 14. I became the person I am today because of those summers and the coworkers that turned into family. The field at Falmouth High School where I first learned to play field hockey, and later spent four years and eight seasons playing lacrosse and field hockey. That field saw the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. And Centerville Yoga, where I grew so much and met people who changed my life. When I took my last yoga class there before leaving for college I was hysterical, not wanting to leave the place that held me together.
Then, after 18 years came Long Island, a place I never thought I'd consider home. Though my dorm room changes every year, I've found myself making homes in more permanent places. I never thought there would be room in my heart for another yoga studio until I started going to Yoga Nanda. This place literally saved me from my destructive self. I've met people there who welcome me into their homes and who allow me to make a life outside of my college bubble. My soul has danced in magical places, such as Robert Moses Beach, Sea Cliff Beach, Washington Square Park, Cold Spring Harbor, The New York Public Library, and Long Beach boardwalk. I've felt both warm and cold sand between my toes, frolicked to the sounds of the city streets, and hiked further than I ever thought possible. I've found a few favorite restaurants, such as Margaritas Cafe, Coliseum Deli, and Witches Brew, where I often frequent to escape campus food. Then there is Hofstra and the people I've met there, friends and professors, who have all played a large role in shaping me into the person I'm becoming.
I have two places, 248 miles apart, with two separate lives. I miss things about the other when I've been away awhile, and catch myself referring to both as home. In a year and a half I'm going to have to pick a home. Do I go back to one of the lives I've already created, or start a new one entirely? I think what I've learned is home is what makes you happy. It could be a house, a person, a place, or a combination of all of those things. Home is where you grow and where you find comfort. Home is where you want to go when you are both happy and sad. Home is what you make it, and it's different for everyone. That's why my iPhone locates 100 Hempstead Turnpike as my home, because that's the logical answer, but home is anything but logical. My phone cannot hear my laugh splashing through the waves at Robert Moses sunset, it can't see how much I've grown in my seven summers at the Chart Room, it can't feel the love that emulates from both of my yoga studios. Home isn't just a place on a map, it's how those places make you feel.
What does home mean to you?