“Night, I’ll see you in the morning for tennis day!” I said to those still awake, climbing up the ladder to my current loft bedroom, my thoughts drifting to an earlier conversation: “It doesn’t feel like it’s the right time for us to be in Vermont. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a whole year since we’ve been here last. It seems too early in the summer to be coming to the end of it.”
We’re in Vermont every summer, always overlapping the first Saturday in August that hosts our North Shore Tennis Tournament. Vermont is a constant. Generations of my maternal grandmother’s side line the coast, my mom was proposed to here, I’ve been since birth. It is one of the many places that I call and feel at home.
I’ve heard of people who will move and not call their new location home for months on end, unable to feel settled in the new space. I’m one to say, “Let’s go home,” about a hotel we’ll be in for one night. Maybe it’s a derivative of moving a lot, but I settle quickly. While I understand the cliches of “Home is where the … Is,” I have never really felt tied to one place.
20 homes that we have owned or rented; the Vermont cabin that technically still belongs to my grandmother, and her home in Iowa; my paternal grandparents’ home in Tennessee of which was sold after their death; the countless Hilton Hotels that take us anywhere around the globe; my best friends’ houses that I know I’m welcome in anytime. I guess what I’ve surmised from my life so far is that, “Home is where I am.”
Or, is it really, “Home is where my family is”? The catch to all of those locations is that I’ve had people to center me and make me comfortable whether we’re in locations new or familiar. While, I’ve travelled alone, and typically consider myself as independent, I’ve been questioning how much I actually need my family. My family who I’ve always felt vaguely ostracized from, my family in which I am the only of many categories, my family who is absolutely huge on one side and practically non-existent on the other, my family who I’ve complained and ranted about endlessly, my family that is mine.
Vermont is a constant mark as the end of summer. I’ll be driving across the country to Boston in 21 days, moving into my new apartment in 27, starting at Emerson College in 32. I’ll have an uncle and a cousin near the city, but neither of whom I am very close with. For the first time I’ll be seemingly completely alone. I’ll be in school, I’ll have jobs, but I’ll be somewhere I’ve only gone before briefly, with my life to be dictated by myself. And I’m terrified. I haven’t had to make friends in eight years, I haven’t been a flight away from my people for more than six weeks, I haven’t lived somewhere with good public transport, I haven’t been at a real school, I haven’t been without guidance.
But maybe it’ll be okay. Previously mentioned Maternal Grandmother grew up in Boston, my mom spent summers in the city as a teen, I do have that one uncle and that one cousin less than an hour away, there’s constant possibilities for those people I consider mine to visit. Maybe it is, “Home is where I am,” maybe it’s, “Home is where my family has been,” maybe it’s, “Home is where I choose to be.”