I think we all have an innate desire to feel at home, in whatever way the idea manifests itself to us individually. Over time I've come to see it as less of a defined location & more so a million little pieces, stitching themselves together, forming a perfect blanket of comfort. (Perfect blankets, much like perfect jeans, are difficult to come by.)
I'm not entirely sure when this transition occurred. There was definitely a time I thought of home as a painted white house with perfectly imperfect wood floors, clean & bright rooms & sunflowers growing outside. Maybe that had something to do with why I began collecting, stockpiling home goods at the age of...I don't know..always, it seems. Even when I was very little, tiny home decor things were my favorite. I would find them at yardsales with my mother, take them home & place them on a shelf. I remember a tiny rocking chair, a tiny broom, a tiny cat...tiny perfect things. Maybe I thought I could construct my own perfect home, that all I needed were the correct pieces, put together in the correct way.
As it turns out, this is called interior decorating.
Right around the end of high school, a couple things happened.
1st) The idea of college (read: the overwhelming idea of having "my own place") made my house wares collecting even more frenzied. Curtains, sheets, dainty mismatched dishes...
To be clear, I still harbor a deep love for these things. I simply no longer charge them with the weighty responsibility of filling my need for home. I like to think my perfectly aligned Anthropologie glasses & perfectly folded a la Martha Stewart linens are grateful for this lowered expectation, & that they sighed with relief the first time I looked at them as what they are - glasses, and linens.
2nd) I met a boy who would quickly become my first real love story & somehow, I'm not sure how, my first real enduring heartache, even more quickly. Three months in, I turned 18 & was positively certain, in the way you can only be when you're 18, that I'd found the person I would be in love with forever. And I with my fatal disposition for finding home in places ill-equipped, felt at home in another person for the first time.
The day I knew in my bones that this whirlwind would never endure, could not weather the spirals (the day I should have walked away), I drove late at night to the town I did my growing up in, & I got my first tattoo. It says "home," on my left side ribcage. I thought I might never find home again, & I wanted so badly a reminder - a reminder every day of forever that I could feel at home. That it could exist for me. And that I should be remember that feeling more than anything else.
I won't say I've learned to walk away when I should, or with any more grace than my 18 year old self possessed.
But I've learned a few things about home. I've learned that I am home. The places & the people & the happenings that allow me to feel the most like myself...those things are home, temporarily sometimes, devastating when lost...but they will all lend themselves in time to building & fortifying the idea of home that exists for each of us.
And for that, I've learned to be grateful.