It isn't that I have never felt any sort of love for the many places I have gone when someone says, "It's time to go home." As I become confident in staking a flag in the ground, claiming a space, finding myself accidentally saying on a drunk night out in a new suburb of the city, "Yeah, I'm going home," I find that along with this pleasant feeling of comfort, the same perturbing feeling of discomfort I found on the island sinks in. Any new space redefines my concept of what home is (or was) and any idea of home then changes entirely. Home morphs from a comforting embrace and turns to ashes like quicksand, slipping through my fingers and trailing away through the wind.
Even now, when so many profess a fond nostalgia of college, I must be entirely honest with my reader and confess I don't think an English degree has gotten me any closer to finding home. I'm made fun of for being an English major yet being tragically terrible at Scrabble, and I that I can never define words simply, ones even as simple as home. The Odyssey, a text we love to talk about in English classes at colleges, introduces the idea of homecoming and loyalty, or Penelope being a symbol of modernity if you're in a 'woke' class. If I were Penelope, I wouldn't have waited around an empty castle full of jerks even if the suitors were time capsule versions of Justin Timberlake, Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio. I suppose, for Penelope, home is comfort, no matter how foreign her commandeered cathedral felt to her.
Tragic Briseis has a different idea of home in Ovid's Metamorphosis, writing in her letter to home, "The words you read come from stolen Briseis, an alien who has learned some Greek." Can Briseis can tell me if Lyrnessus, which epics and literature claim to be her home, is indeed still a home after it was raided by Achilles? It must be awfully isolating to be the inciting plot point for the start of the Iliad, but now that any possibility of a homecoming occurring is stolen from her, how does she find home? She does not. She learns to speak Greek like the aliens around her. Once we step away from something, through our new experiences, can we ever truly go back to what home was to us?
I thought I certainly had an idea of home when the mere power of the thought of returning to Manhattan – my homecoming, my own beloved city – drove my ambition to exist through a prolonged amount of time at the home address marked on my Kentucky State ID card. The sight of the city emerging from the thick, dense Jersey factory smog was the most beautiful, painful, and joyous sight I'd ever beholden. I hid my tears from my father as he drove northbound on 78, since if he saw them, he would understand I no longer called the house I was raised in home. Why can other people have a claim on what your home is? Are people, in fact, perhaps a way to define a home?