Christina Zastrow

The Long Way Home

“Home is where the heart is”

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(Quote by Pliny the Elder)

What does home mean, if your heart is solidly in your own chest and travels with you wherever you go?

What does home mean, if you have no family to tie you to a specific area of the world?

What does home mean, if your friends are all over the world with no central location?

These are the questions that have underlined my decisions as I plan this trip to China.

I’ve lived within an hour of Chicago my entire life. I lived in the same house until I was eighteen, and then moved nine blocks south for my early college years. I lived on campus my senior year, in a different Chicago suburb and returned to my hometown after graduation. I am, as I have mentioned, a creature of routine and habit, and my craving for stability called me to make limit the changes I made.

At thirty I finally left my hometown, for what I thought would be the rest of my life, moving twenty minutes closer to Chicago to live with my boyfriend. And at thirty-three I’m back “home” again, planning on moving not just suburbs, or even states, but actually countries.

So now I wonder, what will I do when my time in China comes to an end? Is there a compelling reason for me to return to the Chicago area? I’ve already determined that I will not be returning to the suburb I was born in. I think that even if, in the end, I do need to return something familiar, I can’t come back to what I’m leaving.

I know that I’m a creature of habit, and I fear that returning to the same area will result in eventually losing whatever I learn in China and becoming, again, the woman I was when I met my ex. I never again want to be the person who will let others walk all over me because I crave love more than I honor myself.

And with all of that in mind, I keep returning to the question of what home means, when you don’t have an attachment to any specific area.

Until recently, I had never explored the concept of home. Home was, for me, the place I had always lived. I was comfortable, and I thought I was happy, so why question that? But now I want out from under the shadow of the person I’ve been and I want to be forced to grow. And one way to ensure that, is to redefine home.

One of the first things I did when this question arose, was seek out the definition of “home”. Google informs me that home is “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.” Well, I have no family and my household is myself, so that leaves me back where I started, trying to define home in a way that is meaningful to me and to the life that I want.

My heart is nowhere in particular at the moment, and so I don’t know where home is. Hopefully, in a year, when I’m planning the end of my trip, I have a better idea of what I need and where my heart is.

And with that, I begin my long way home.

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Author: Christina Zastrow

Somewhere along my way through life, I managed to lose sight of myself. Then when my first long term relationship fell apart I found myself homeless, unemployed, and without family or support system. I decided it was time to find my way home, back to myself. This is my journey.

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