by Tannith Matthew
As a child, home was a word with a simple definition: home was where I lived. Now at the age of 20, I have many homes, in many places, and the meaning only becomes more abstract.
Home is my mum’s house where I lived until I turned 17. Home is where I can always be a child, a daughter; where I will always be greeted lovingly with kisses from my loyal mutt and bites from my vicious kitten. Where I will always have a cupboard full of my favourite food and a TIVO box full of my favourite shows. Home is where I am welcome, any time of day.
Home is South Carolina where I moved at 17. Home is where I learned what it meant to leave my comfort zone. Where I learned how to make my own family in the absence of familiar faces. Home is the school where I met my best friend; it’s the family who took me in as a stranger and treated me as a daughter. Home is the welcome I receive at the airport when I visit and it’s the tearful never-want-to-let-go hugs when I have to leave.
Home is the train ride away from uni on a Friday afternoon; armed with my bag of popcorn and bottle of juice to pacify me on my journey. Home is the smile on my boyfriend’s face when I meet him at the other side and the smell of his clothes when I hug him. It’s the taste of the Pringles that we always share and the sound of his PlayStation whirring into motion when we settle down to watch Netflix. Home is the left side of the bed but the right side of the couch. Home is the sound of him softly muttering beside me as he falls asleep and how much I miss him when I leave.
Home is the hospital where my grandparents died. It’s the corridors that I walked every day for nine months as my granddad fought cancer and two major strokes. It’s the taste of an orange packet of Nik-Naks and a slushie from the hospital shop. Home is the ward where I volunteered, and the long-term patients who I came to know. It’s the smell of the hand sanitiser at the door to each ward and the ugly paintings on the walls.
Home is sitting here, right now in this moment, typing at my desk. Home is this room, which is only mine for a year, being covered in my things to make me feel more comfortable. Home is familiarity: my fingertips on the keys of a piano; the taste of my mum’s home-cooked carbonara; my tatty, well-loved teddy Mr. Baggins; and the sigh I let out when I arrive back to a place that makes me feel at ease.
Home is something that was created for me: where I have memories; where I have family and friends; home is a reminder of my past. Home is something that I create for myself: where I make family out of friends and create a space that is all my own; home is how I shape my present. Home is something that will continue to change as I do. I will gain new friends, I will make my own career and my own family. I will move to different places and explore new things. And every new milestone that I hit will leave me with another place to call my own.
Home is where I hang my hat and home is where my heart is; the longer I’ve lived and the more places I’ve been, the more my home will grow.
Tannith is just a hopeless book lover who hopes to one day be able to write something that makes people want to read.