Do you ever take comfort in the fact that some things just almost always stay exactly the same? Every time I drive home from college, I hit this one stop light almost always just moments after crossing town lines to arrive in Millbury. I drive past the supermarket and put my car at a halt at the light by Dunkin Donuts and the auto repair shop. For some reason, this is the moment I take in the fact that I have arrived at ‘home’. I’m still a few minutes from my house, but I always hit this stop light. This is where I notice how everything looks exactly the same as it always does. Same cars, same people, same buildings. It’s comforting. I continue up the street when the light turns green and think about what it means to come home, what it means for a town to be almost the same whenever I return.
But ‘home’ is not always a location. As Dory says in Finding Nemo, “I look at you, and I’m home.” Is it really the fact that everything looks the same when I stop at this traffic light or is it the moment I realize that in a few short minutes I’ll be pulling into my driveway and being wrapped in a hug from my parents. They are home. Stonehill is another home (although, my mom might yell at me for calling it that). Like my house, Stonehill is a place I feel safe when coming onto campus, and it full of my friends that are like family. It’s not Stonehill’s super-duper green grass that makes it home, it’s my friends and the community that welcome me ‘home’ when I arrive onto campus.
So what does it really mean when we call a place home? Does location mean anything or is it the people that make up the town and those that welcome you back that make it home? We feel at home when we feel safe, comfortable, accepted, and loved.
We always find comfort when things are unchanging. It is peaceful in a world full of change, full of surprises, disasters, and yet, also happiness, adventure, and opportunity. In a world where things are never the same, my town is something that doesn’t. Although that stop light can’t embrace me in a warm hug, or tell me, “Welcome home,” it doesn’t have to. It makes me feel that way without having to do anything, by staying exactly the same. Home, at least for me, is somewhere comforting. I’m thankful my town always welcomes me home.