We moved into a new house summer of 2015. It was my 18th house. I was 17. It’s hard to have an idea of what home feels like when your whole life is characterized by change and transition. I remember standing in the empty living room and thinking “will this feel like home?”

Home is a special word. It’s a word that some languages don’t even have. The closest you can get is “house” and native English speakers know that a house is not necessarily a home. A house is a building. A home is a place where you feel comfortable, where you feel you belong. Home is more personal. After all, it’s “where the heart is.”

So…when you’ve lived in a lot of places and pieces of your heart are scattered across the globe and you get asked where home is for you, what do you say? Do you just pick a favorite place? A lot of people think of home in terms of “where.” Home for them is a town or an address. It’s where they grew up. It’s where they went to school. Maybe it’s where they raised their children, or wherever they work and live now. But I don’t have a “where” attached to my idea of home.

      My family is moving across the country this summer into what will be my 19th house. And I find myself asking the same question I asked last summer. Will this new house feel like home? But, hey, what is home anyway? I google searched “home definition”and Google told me that home is “the place where one lives permanently.” Great. Soooo does that mean I’ve never experienced home? I don’t think so. But that’s just because I’ve rejected Google’s general definition and I decided to come up with my own definition of what home means and feels like — for me at least. 

 I wrote this poem/prose thing last summer to try to capture how a Third Culture Kid thinks of home.  Or, well, this Third Culture Kid anyway. Just because I don’t think of walls and a door when I think of home doesn’t make the concept any less real or special to me. And my 19th house is going to be home just as much as all the others were.

Because for me, home is something I can take with me wherever I go. 

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Home is
The way the kitchen
Smells of spaghetti
When I get back from school
And my mom wipes her hands
On her apron and says to
Set the table

Home is
When my family is laughing
Around the dinner table
And our plates are clear
And our bellies are full

Home is
When my dad kicks off his shoes
To take a nap on the sofa
And we tug on his shirt and say
He has to come play with us

Home is
The game of cards
In the living room
Trying to figure out why
My little sister always wins

Home is
Laundry on the line
Dishes in the sink
A vanilla-scented candle
In the bathroom

Home is
The photo album that holds
Memories of the other places
We’ve lived before and
The people we knew there

Home is
Hugs at 2 a.m.
Sitting on the counter
Tears on my cheeks
While my mom prays for me

Home is
The white afghan
Draped on the back of the couch
That has warmed many bodies
And heard many stories
And scriptures and songs

Home is
The box of letters
From friends far away
That holds cards and papers
That say “I love you” and
“I miss you” and
“Come visit us soon.”

Home is
A stack of suitcases
An airport gate
An airplane seat
The sky

Home is
A moment
Is a feeling
Is a family.
Is us.

But never a country.
Never a city.
Never a house.

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