Mounce: The meaning of home from someone who doesn’t have a set home

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My mom’s home, my dad’s place, our Pocono house, Kristina’s, my apartment at school and sometimes Kyle’s. I’ve lived a few places in my life, each changing with a change in my life. While every place I have lived has been different in its own aspects, there is one commonality: a suitcase.

Everywhere I go is home to me because my home is my suitcase.

When half of all marriages end in divorce, it’s not shocking to hear my parents divorced in 2008. My dad’s new house was 11 minutes from my childhood home where my mom still resided. My sister and I would go back and forth each day from parent to parent. On Friday, whichever parent’s day it was housed us for the weekend.

Every other Thursday night became packing night. I would make sure I’d have enough clothing and activities to entertain me. Before cell phones, I enjoyed Bratz dolls, Littlest Pet Shop toys and Tamagotchis. I didn’t play outside much at my dad’s house because there were no kids in his neighborhood.

Now, I knew packing a suitcase before the divorce but in a much more fun tone. My family went camping every weekend at a campground in the back woods of South Jersey. Belleplain State Forest had a lake and tons of trails, which meant if you didn’t have at least four t-shirts, you would be wearing dirty clothes all weekend.

Packing for my dad’s house was different, I could never figure out what I would need for the weekend. I would always be down a pair of pants or forget a sweatshirt. Unlike camping, I didn’t need extra clothes because I didn’t have to worry about dirt.

After a few months, I got the hang of it.

It got much easier when I could drive. If I forgot something, I’d just go to my mom’s house and grab it. My sister and I also didn’t have such a strict schedule. We’d stay at whichever house we wanted, whenever we wanted. But even then, a suitcase was still involved.

My suitcase stuck around when I started going to community college and my best friend gave me a key to her house for my high school graduation. Kristina lived 10 minutes from the college and I stayed there most weekdays.

When I got to Rowan, I finally had my own apartment. I lived with my roommate, who was my best friend in high school and community college. But once I got there, the home feeling never settled. I constantly thought about how I knew the exact day I’d leave. There was no future there.

In an average week, I stay at three houses: my mom’s, my apartment at school and my boyfriend’s apartment. I’m not unhappy about this because I get to see the people who matter to me on a regular basis, but I wish for a place of my own.

The suitcase changed more times than the amount of places I’ve called home. As someone who embraces change with a shield held high and a sword drawn, the idea of a common object always being with me was comforting.

In each place I stayed, I learned a new aspect of home that I will eventually mend together into what I want my permanent home to be like.

Post graduation will be the first time I’ll have a place where I won’t know the move-out date. It may be an apartment or a rented house, but it will be mine.

I’ll have my own home and my suitcase will find its home in the closest.

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