Ken in Rome: Feels like home

Home is more than a place

Kennedy Bustos, Staff Writer

Home. What is home? Is it a person, a place? A feeling, a memory? A state of mind? Is it all of these simultaneously? 

Home can be the place that brought us into existence: the walls surrounding us as we took our first steps, the memories encased within those walls. Home can be the ones who raised us — the ones who taught us unconditional love, the ones who encouraged us to listen to our intuition, the ones who reminded us to live unapologetically. Do you remember the wistful ache you had to see the world, to abandon everything you knew, to throw caution to the wind and immerse yourself in a new experience? 

You have always been attracted to the idea of tearing your roots from the ground and existing nomadically. There is so much to see … and shouldn’t we fill our limited time on this planet with as many memories as we can? Shouldn’t we try to see the world, before the world sees us out? 

You’ve been thinking a lot about home. Italy has taught you that any place can be home: you can make any place yours entirely if you are open to change.

And yet, and yet. 

Home is more than a place — even a beautiful place like Italy. 

Home is a mantra, a prayer. Home is a battle-cry, a ballad, a bestial bellowing. 

Home is the passing of time — pleading with an urgency that cannot be measured, that refuses to be defined. So take advantage of time before time takes advantage of you. 

Home is the recognition that life is far too short to play it safe: so when opportunity knocks on your door, welcome her with open arms. Hop on a train to Pisa with adrenaline flooding your veins and joy — relentless in its intensity — taking over your body, your mind. Home is the knowledge that moments are nonrenewable resources. They exist, they pass … and on and on until, until. No more moments. We do not carry currency or status or grades into the grave. We carry memories with us forever — and memories were once moments, were they not? So take the train to Pisa. Take a moment or several to ponder how far you have come: physically, yes, but figuratively too. You’ve made this happen on your own. You can make anything happen! The world is your Pisa! So take the train, take the cliché Leaning Tower pictures, savor your dinner, savor the wine but not too much: you’ve still got another train to catch. 

Home is telling the tale of how you met the love of your life. His name is always fresh on your lips because you miss him more than words can articulate, and isn’t it ironic? You’re a writer! You’ve spent years and years transforming feelings into words, but this is different — he is different, this is love. They ask, “How did you meet him?” and your breath catches, because this means he’ll be right here, materialized by memory as you lead them down the path that led you to him. It’s 10 p.m. and you’ve made the café your confessional. An hour has passed now and you haven’t even finished your coffee, but there you are: reading the poem where you vocalized your love for him for the very first time. Crying in cafés has become one of your favorite pastimes, it seems. You miss him. He is your home, and you knew it before, and you know it now. Do you feel it? The invisible string tying you to him? 

Home is the art of letting go — and shouldn’t we allow ourselves to feel everything, even if it hurts? Home is saying goodbye. It carves your heart from your chest, it pierces your soul deeper than you ever thought imaginable, but isn’t there beauty in goodbye? Forever is a rarity, and if goodbye is inevitable, find comfort in the privilege of hello. 

Home is the words you are reading, the people behind them, the history within them. Home is The Paisano — the bonds you’ve built, the memories you’ve made. It was worth it, all of it was worth it: the late nights blurring into early mornings will forever live in nostalgia. It was here that you truly discovered who you are, who you want to be. How could it not be worth it? 

Sometimes a moment can feel like it will last forever, but then you blink and it has already passed … and isn’t that just like life itself? One moment you’re taking your first steps, stumbling but standing, and the next you’re walking to the airport terminal as your family waves goodbye with tears in their eyes. You tell yourself that tears are a luxury you cannot afford: if you cry, they’ll cry even harder. Breathe. This is the beginning of the rest of your life, so take it in and remember you are loved beyond belief. There is so much to be grateful for, and this moment is one of them. 

Does Italy feel like home? Of course it does — but maybe it’s more than the place. It’s the people, it’s the memories and moments you’ve collected and stowed away, ready to revisit them with reverence when you return.

Now you know it, beyond a shadow of a doubt, don’t you? You can make any place home. You have that power within you, nestled like a flame within your heart. Keep it burning. Keep it alive, won’t you?