traveling from greece to my hometown and then on to heidelberg has caused me to do a lot of thinking about this idea of “home”. what exactly is it? and do all people define it the same? for me home is a place where i feel comfortable, nurtured, and able to grow into the person i desire to be. the more i thought about it the more i realized that i’m incredibly lucky enough to have three homes; three places that i can immediately feel safe and know that the people there care about me and my well being.

my first home is my immediate family. notice, not the hometown where i grew up, or the house that i lived in all throughout school, but my family who lives there and that i return to over every break. all throughout middle school and high school i disliked my town with ferocity. the people there weren’t supportive, i didn’t feel like i was a part of the stereotypical “small town community” that everyone always seems to talk about, and my friends there weren’t real, they were of convienence. my family, however, is my rock. they are my first and (currently) most important home. wherever they go i will return to. my aunt always seems to get offended when i tell her this, which happens pretty much every time she starts going on about how important it is to have a hometown and how it will always be “my first and most important home”. my hometown is not my home; the people who populate it were not nice to me and i don’t find myself ever eager to return there, but my family keeps me coming back. it’s my hope that once my brother is older my parents will move somewhere else (preferably into a chic apartment near some amazing cultural activities) and that will then become my first home. to me it’s always been about the people, not the geographic location.

my second home is my school, heidelberg university in the epically boring small town of tiffin, ohio. again, it’s not the point on the map that keeps me coming back and loving my school, it’s the people here who genuinely care about me and are invested in my well being. walking across campus i’m greeted by smiling faces and people say hello and want to stop and chat the day away. not to mention my amazing mentor, marc o’reilly, who greeted me back on campus with a “miss bailey! where’s the wineee!?” haha he’s great. there are so many people here who want me to succeed and believe in me, not to mention all the random acquaintances that i have from pretty much every group on campus. my life here on campus is always random and spontaneous; i never quite know what’s going to happen and i love that.

and then there’s my home in greece, on the island of paros in the middle of the aegean sea; the place where i became even more easygoing and patient, and learned the importance of honesty and vulnerability. my entire time there was one huge life lesson, and for this i will always feel it’s pull.

i’m a different person in all three of my homes because they each bring out a different side of me that is usually pushed to the background when i’m somewhere else. now that i’m back at heidelberg i feel the constant pull of my family and of paros. at times here everything seems back to normal and completely comfortable, and yet at other times i’m suddenly reminded of how many things changed while i was gone, on both the campus and within myself. it’s a constant tug of war that makes me miss the calming effect of my family and also the soothing waves of greece. i’m starting to learn that no matter where i am i will always feel a pull to be somewhere else. this is something that i’m going to have to learn to live with, because it’s only going to get worse the more i travel and the more i see.