Dear Home: A love letter to a comforting presence

A letter to my beacons of warmth

Dear Home: A love letter to a comforting presence

Lakshanyaa Ganesh

I’ve always had trouble defining you. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines you as “one’s place of residence,” but I’m not entirely sure if I trust the dictionary on that one. The old adage “home is where the heart is” isn’t entirely convincing either, as that implies that there’s only one place where you can exist. In fact, the main thing I’ve struggled with when it comes to you is this concept of singularity, as well as the stereotype that you had to be a place or a tangible thing I could put my finger on.

The reality is, despite having lived in two different countries and three different states, I’ve never fully felt comfortable calling any of those places “home.” I was too young to remember India or Ohio enough to even be able to connect the idea of you to either of them, and even though I grew up in North Carolina for the most part, there’s something off and almost bitter-tasting about calling NC by your name. Not because I have some sort of terrible history with the state but just because I don’t have a particular affinity for the moody weather and sometimes even moodier people. Even after living here for a year and a half, the novelty of California hasn’t worn off enough for me to call it “home.”

A “house” isn’t something I equate you with either. Within those two countries and three states, I’ve lost count of how many houses I’ve lived in. Though the memories in those houses will stay with me, the summer nights my brother and I would race each other down the streets in front of our house barefoot, or the way the snow left watermarks on the balcony of our apartment for months, there was always thisunderlying, uncomfortable sense that we were just going to have to move out of them again, so what was the point of getting attached? There was never any sense of permanence in the houses I lived in, permanence that I always thought you required.

Despite not exactly knowing who you were or what you meant to me, I’ve constantly found myself longing for you. I think in the back of my head, you were always this beacon of security and warmth that I felt I was missing out on. It’s taken a while for me to realize that I do have you — it’s just that I can’t find you in any one singular place. Some things didn’t have to check every box on the list I made in my head to fit a solid description of you.

For me, you’re tucked in my father’s sweaters and my mother’s hugs, bringing me a bizarre combination of serenity complimented with overwhelming joy. You echo in my brother’s laugh after I make a really bad Marvel pun, and you’re stuck between the old fries and broken souvenirs from cherished road trips in our family Honda Odyssey. You hide behind the pictures of pretty skies and wide-eyed puppies my best friend texts me, between every “I miss you, I love you, come to NC soon.”

You hide in the strings of my guitar, and you creep among the keys of my piano. I wrap myself in you every year after finals with a cup of hot chocolate and a season of “Grey’s Anatomy,” all cued up and ready to binge. You’re sandwiched in every hug my friends give me, every kind word and every person who offers a shoulder to rest on. I could go on, but ultimately I find you in everything in my life that brings me peace, being my own personal beacon of security and warmth. I guess that, in a way, home really is where the heart is, only my heart is ripped in a million pieces, scattered all over the world.

But, that’s just me. Everyone has their own personal definition of you, and for the thousands of people whose houses burned down because of the wildfires that ran rampant all over Northern California, maybe you burned with them. If that’s the case, I really hope you find your way to them again. For everyone who, like me, at times feel a little lost, I hope you can help them fill the holes you leave behind. I’ve learned to be OK with not having a solid definition of you, and even though sometimes you leave me and I feel a bit lost, I’ve learned to find you in unconventional ways.

Love, Lakshanyaa