It’s no secret that where I come from is a big part of identity—I hold a lot of pride in my home state. Last Friday, Maine turned 199, and a girl from my high school posted a paragraph detailing some of her favorite parts about the state.
Highlights include: “Making sandcastle kingdoms on rocky flawless untouched beaches,” “bobbing for blueberries in buckets of butterflies and kayaking through rivers of homemade maple syrup” and “sledding down hills of butter flaky fluffy goodness.”
Her somewhat silly descriptions somehow perfectly capture the essence of the place I called home for the first 18 years of my life.
However, this post, combined with my current struggle regarding where to spend my summer, led me down my most recent rabbit hole of what the concept of “home” means.
Prior to college, I’d only ever lived in North Yarmouth, Maine, a town of just over 3,000 people. Home was never something I questioned much until recently, when I began questioning it a lot.
I’ve been grappling with many facets of this topic, some more existential than others, but most of it stems from trying to determine what constitutes a home. There are tons of definitions of this concept. For me, home means familiarity, in people and place, and feeling a sense of belonging and community.
There is one restaurant in my hometown, a breakfast place called Stones Cafe & Bakery, and it serves as a microcosm for one important aspect in my definition of home. Stone’s is a place of good memories, comfort food and community. It is the sort of diner where no matter when you go, you’ll run into at least one familiar face.
One of my favorite things about where I grew up is the ability to go to a restaurant, go for a run or even go to an event two towns over, and run into family friends, former teachers and probably that person my best friend had a crush on in middle school.
I missed that when I came out to Goshen. But recently, I’ve begun to notice that things have started changing.
Take Anna’s Bread, a place that in some ways reminds me of Stones. It’s nearly impossible to go there and not run into someone you know. I’ve gone the past two Saturdays—not good for my wallet, but great for my soul.
Both times, I had lovely conversations with friends working behind the counter, and both times, I ran into community members I knew. It made me realize that maybe Goshen can also qualify as home.
Last semester, Kristin Troyer wrote an editorial on this subject that resonated with me. In it, she said, “Home is where you’re from,” “Home is where you experience growth,” “Home is where you are,” and “Home is where you are whole.”
As I move further from my original home, both in time and geography, I consider Troyer’s list, in addition to my own. I’m realizing that for the first time, these requirements may apply to multiple places.
Being an adult means establishing roots in numerous locations. It’s time to begin to embrace that.