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Home is where the heart is

| Thursday, October 28, 2021

At the beginning of September, my family moved from northern New Jersey to a suburb of Pittsburgh. I was born and raised in New Jersey and, like many people who grew up there, have an unreasonable and almost strange amount of pride and love for my home state. From summers down the shore to day trips into the city to the pizza to the bagels to the malls, I am incredibly grateful to have grown up in New Jersey and will always consider it home.

Home. That’s what I want to write about this week because this concept of “home” is something I’ve been thinking a lot about during fall break since coming back to this new house in the middle of western Pennsylvania, instead of back home to New Jersey surrounded by everything and everyone I’ve grown up with my whole life. Despite the newness and unfamiliarity of this new house, town and state, I’ve felt surprisingly relaxed and at ease here — almost like I’m home. But what exactly is “home?”

I used to think home equated to house. Meaning, home is a physical building filled with familiar furniture, smells, photos, etc. So, moving out of my old house and into this new one in a different state hundreds of miles away would also mean leaving home and moving homes. But when I think about it, the reason why the house I grew up in in New Jersey felt like home wasn’t because of the furniture or of the brick structure itself but because of the people in that house (of course, I’m incredibly fortunate to have had a physical house and a place to grow up and live in, and this isn’t to say that a physical house and a roof over their heads is something people should live without). What made that house “home” was the memories of my dad at the grill during 4th of July barbecues, of sitting with my family around the dining room table during Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners, of running around with my siblings in the backyard, of baking every weekend with my mom in the kitchen. Home was never found in that house but in the people and love — the community — residing there.

Maybe if home isn’t a house, then it’s a hometown or a home state. Again, I love my hometown in New Jersey, but when I think about why I love it so much, it’s not necessarily because of the town or state itself. Rather, it’s because my hometown, the schools I attended growing up there, and my home state is where I met and came to love some of the most important people in my life: my friends. I’m extremely grateful and fortunate to have grown up in a safe town with a strong education system and a vibrant downtown area filled with restaurants and shops, but again, that’s not exactly where my sense of home and love for that place comes from. Rather, when I think of home, I think of going on long drives with my best friend, of graduating with my favorite people by my side, of being surrounded by my friends everyday in school and going through the ups and downs of life together. So, home was not found in that town or in New Jersey but in the people and the community that I love there.

That’s why this new house in Pennsylvania doesn’t feel so unfamiliar or unsettling despite the fact that I’ve only been here for a few days. Coming back and seeing my parents happy and settled in, of reuniting with a hometown friend who goes to college in Pittsburgh, of being able to FaceTime and connect with my friends and loved ones who aren’t here, has all made this new place feel more like home than I initially thought possible. That cheesy phrase, “home is where the heart is” has really proven true, at least for me, the more I think about this concept of “home.” Home is where my family is, where my friends are, where I feel a sense of belonging, love, safety and acceptance.

So, it seems like home is quite portable. I see it not necessarily as a physical building or place but rather in the abstract form of love — in memories, in loved ones, in people, in community. Of course I consider New Jersey home, but with this new definition, I also see this new house in Pennsylvania as home, the cities where my siblings live as home, the cities across the country where my best friends go to school as home and Notre Dame as home. I thought about this concept of home especially after reading the recent Viewpoint pieces affirming the fact that LGBTQ+ members of the tri-campus community are welcome and loved here. Notre Dame should be a home — not necessarily a physical and tangible place but rather a community of love, belonging, safety and acceptance — for all.

Where is home to you?

Megumi Tamura is a sophomore from New Jersey currently living in McGlinn Hall. She enjoys reading books, going to museums and eating Jersey bagels. She can be reached at [email protected] or @megtamura on Twitter.   

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Megumi Tamura

Meg is a senior majoring in political science and minoring in data science and business economics. Besides writing, she enjoys spending time with the people she loves, riding on public transportation and listening to good music.

Contact Megumi