Home is Where the Heart is

by Keira Johannson

They say home is where the heart is and right now, my home is scattered into a million little pieces.

I feel weird. I don’t know how else to explain it, but it's weird. In the past few months, I have started a new relationship, moved away for the first time, and said goodbye to everything that was once familiar. I always get a strange feeling in my stomach around this time of year: when the sun starts to set earlier, and the temperature drops significantly. A sign of summer ending and fall beginning, a sign of change. I have a love-hate relationship with change.

One of the hardest things I have ever done was saying goodbye to the people I love most. The ones I spent my entire summer with - chasing sunsets and jumping into freezing cold ocean water. Or the people who raised me - who made me become the person I am today. I am not very good at goodbyes, I am way too emotional to even say the word aloud. Nonetheless, I am separated from those I love who are scattered all across the country, starting their new chapters. And I am here, in a 10x10 dorm room left to fend for myself. I have never lived alone before - I haven’t even moved before. For 18 years, I lived in the same house with the same four people (and dog) on the same street with neighbours who became family. Over the years, the little red house became a home. My entire heart and soul are plastered in the cracks and crevasses, in the third-grade art projects that my mom refused to take down, and even the two-day-old dishes that are yet to be washed. All the things that make a house a home and now, I have left it all behind and a piece of my heart is still there, waiting for my return. It is possible to be happy and sad at the same time: I am happy to meet friends, gain experiences, and take on opportunities. But, I am sad to say goodbye, to move on, and to leave my childhood behind. Like I said before, I have a love-hate relationship with change.

Remember when you were a kid, and you would dream about the day where you would become an adult? I am starting to realize that maybe I shouldn’t have wasted my dreams - maybe I shouldn’t have rushed to grow up so fast. Because now, at 18, I am starting to dream that I could be a kid again - that I could have slowed down the process a bit. One of my favourite movies growing up was Peter Pan. I remember dreaming of flying and being able to use magic (as most kids did). As a young adult, I still watch the film from time to time but now it holds a different meaning altogether. What was once dreaming of flying and magic, has since turned into dreams of escaping to Neverland, living with freedom, and turning back the clock to be a child again. A couple months ago, I discovered a term that I hadn’t heard before: Peter Pan Syndrome. It is simply a metaphor for people like me who do not want to or are incapable of growing up. Sometimes I feel trapped in the past, replaying moments from my childhood and wishing that I could grab onto something to pull me back in. It is definitely not healthy - I am aware, but unfortunately I am not too sure how to stop doing it. I am a child at heart and since turning 18, I feel as though a piece of my heart was left behind in my past - except this time, it is nearly impossible to return back to it. I can dream about turning back the clock, but it won't happen and I understand that now. Something I have learned while growing up is that some dreams just don’t come true. I hate to be the realist here, but I am- there are some dreams that are unattainable, and that is okay. I can’t go back in time to relive my childhood because if I did, who’s to say I would end up back here? Instead, I can hold on to this idea of childhood and apply it to my life right now. It has been ten years but I can still dream, and play, and dance, and sing, and do all the things that my eight-year-old self would do back then. I have come to learn that there is magic in the act of growing up, it just takes some time to notice it.

I have never had to say goodbye before, at least not like this. Through childhood and adolescence, I have been blessed to meet the people that I have - the type of friends that feel like family. I never imagined the day where I would be forced to say goodbye, but that day has come and it was a lot harder than I anticipated. Starting university and moving away is difficult as it is, but learning how to go about these things on your own, now that is a challenge. I compare the task of saying goodbye to the last episode of your favourite TV show - you know it is time for the end, yet you’re still holding on to the possibility of there being more. My last summer at home felt like this - it felt like I was clinging to that last breath of childhood, to that last hug, kiss, laugh, and smile. I was clinging so hard that the shock of it all struck me even worse. As a parting gift, I gave a small piece of my heart to each of those I loved - a piece for my mom, the one who taught me to love, a piece for my dad, the one who taught me to live, and a piece for my brother, the one who taught me to laugh. My closest friends each got a piece too for teaching me the true meaning of friendship, for being there for me when no one else was, and for creating the memories that I will cherish for life. Saying goodbye to my boyfriend was probably the hardest because he was headed for the other side of the country. I often wonder how someone who could be so far could also feel so close. Maybe it is because the biggest piece of my heart got packed up in his suitcase and is now about 2, 708 km away.

I do believe that home is where the heart is, and that right now my home is all over the place. I have left a piece of my heart in each of these three things: in the family home that I grew up in, in the memories of childhood that I refuse to give up, and in the people I have grown to love over the years. I don’t know everything but I do know this: one day my heart will grow full and I will feel that sense of home again - for home is not a place, but a feeling and one that I hold so close to my heart that it beats strong even when pieces of it are missing from me.