Home. What a strange word. Some people may define it as the place where you live, but others may define it as where your heart is.
For the first eighteen years of my life, I could easily say that my home was the fourth house on the left in a cute, northern suburb of St. Louis. I will venture a little further and say that I considered that home for the next two years while I was away at school. My first two years at college were hard for me, and homesickness wasn’t an unusual feeling for me because I didn’t consider Kansas City my home.
Then, it was like a flip had switched in my junior year of college. Kansas City was no longer this strange land to me. I had planted roots: I had settled on a running route around the track behind my apartment complex and up and around the art museum; my favorite checker at Aldi knew my name and I knew his; I frequented new restaurants and could navigate my way around without having a GPS; I was solving problems on my own and discovering and reveling in my own independence; I found a little known spot with one of the best views that Andrew and I would sneak away to on cool nights just to soak everything in. I knew Kansas City and it was no longer just the place that I lived.
In August, Andrew and I leased our first apartment together as newlyweds. I looked forward to coming home to him in the evenings and snuggling close while we watched movies. While we were already very close when we were just dating, I didn’t realize how different being married felt. It’s not something I can put into words easily because it’s all in my heart, not my mind. I just knew I wanted to be wherever he was.
St. Louis, on the other hand now feels unfamiliar. I’m such a different person than I was in high school so I feel like I’m looking at everything with fresh eyes. I have so many questions that I don’t have answers to anymore. As we are preparing for the move back, it feels like we are moving to a new city. All of the routines I established in Kansas City no longer apply.
So now, as this strange city has slowly weaseled its way into my heart and Andrew and I have put in some tentative roots, it’s hard for me to say where home is. As May inches closer, I keep telling friends and family that we will be moving “home” to St. Louis, but I’m not sure that’s the correct word to use anymore. St. Louis was my home for about twenty years – and it still holds a special place in my heart – but no, I don’t think it’s home quite yet again.
Yet, Kansas City isn’t quite home either. I’ve spent all of my independent adult life here, so this is where it all happened for me. But in Kansas City, I lack the friends and family that I have back in St. Louis. While I have a variety of friends here, I really only have one that I can talk to on a deep and personal level, and she’s currently working 65+ hour weeks. Here I lack the network of support that really keeps me going, which is why I struggled with depression for a long time here.
If home is where you live, then home is Kansas City. Yet if home is where the heart is, my heart is mostly back in St. Louis with my family and close friends. My heart is also where Andrew is. So where is home currently? Who knows, but I’m up for the adventure to figure it out again.