By Kate Kole
Sometime during middle school, I picked the house I would live in once I became a grown up. It was a 10-minute walk from my childhood home, quaint and complete with a white picket fence.
I imagined my brother and sister would buy places in the same neighborhood. We’d all get married and have kids. They’d play little league together and we’d barbecue with my parents on Sunday afternoons.
My best friends would always be my best friends. We’d have monthly girls’ nights and brunch on the weekends, start a running group and host cookie exchanges at Christmastime.
Life would be an extension of what it’d always been – only more idyllic in my daydreams, of course.
I currently live in Connecticut, 1,030 miles away from my hometown. Those girlfriends are spread across the country. My sister’s in Chicago. My brother, with us in spirit.
I think I could probably still pick out what I once declared my future home, but I can’t be sure. It’s been over a decade since I strolled passed it, and it’s now become a blurry memory in my mind.
I’ve moved twice since college, and it’s been bittersweet both times. In the midst of all the excitement and opportunity, there were some really lonely moments. The kind that come with being the new kid and not yet having made connections.
I felt unsettled and lost, nostalgic and regretful. I stared out the kitchen window of our first house, just purchased and unpacked, and cried because I didn’t even know where the closest Target was. Even worse, I hadn’t looked to make sure that there was a Target in the area – there was.
A sense of belonging didn’t happen in the instant way I hoped it would. My life didn’t go according to the perfect plan I’d curated at 14. Instead, it went in a way that both challenged and comforted me and worried and delighted me and made me feel alive. So that even now, as I catch myself wondering what’s next and experiencing the tug of war of faith and fear within me, I know it’s okay to walk without all the answers. Because, I never really had them anyway.
And yet, here I am. I won’t say I’ve made it. Because, I’m not really sure that we ever fully have. But I will say, I’m making it. Learning how to walk with the different seasons of life. Accepting grace. Discovering a deeper level of appreciation for the things that I may have otherwise taken for granted. The hard times softening my heart and changing my perspective in a way I couldn’t have imagined. The good times strengthening my spirit.
I now view friendship in the same way that I see a 70-degree February day in New England, as something that deserves to be fully soaked in and savored. I revel in moments with my family the same way I joyfully relish the feeling of my bare feet meeting the sand for the first time each summer. I delight in a moment of laughing until I cry that same way that I enjoy the glowing sight of the leaves changing in the fall.
My life, my tribe, and my definition of home look different now than I expected they would. My favorite people are scattered, from coast to coast, and in between. There’s no longer one place that has it all, because different places now represent different pieces of my heart, soul, and self. While it isn’t the path I once mapped out, it’s mine. Deeper, messier, and fuller than I ever envisioned it would be.
featured image via we heart it