Traveling vs. Living

I’ve been mulling over the difference between traveling to a place and living in a place.

Now, this may sound like a silly and obvious differentiation, but I’ve been here five months now and still haven’t quite figured it out.  Despite starting to understand living here more fully, I’m not there yet.

You see, when you travel to a place, whether you are there for 10 days or 10 years, it doesn’t necessarily become home.  That’s a choice.  Although I have an apartment here, work a job here, my clothes are in my closet, and I have an Indonesian phone number, home is still in Ohio.

Home is with my family.  Home is where there are a plethora of people that speak my two favorite languages.  Home is where my enormous family converges on my grandparents’ house for holidays and where the church is that I grew up loving.  Home is where I can get a Panera bagel for breakfast, play a game of cards with my dad before he heads to work, eat my mom’s homemade dinner, not miss my best friend’s wedding or college friend’s funeral or little brother’s baseball game.

And if home is not in Ohio, it is in Chicago.  It’s where I spent four years of my life.  The first place that I lived on my own.  A place where I know how to get to Target and where to go to dinner, where I can easily go home for a family birthday, where there are memories attached to so many locations.  But was Chicago ever really home?

Though I was there, and loved it there, and though I am here, and I love it here, I still talk about “going home” to Ohio.

On the other hand, there are things here that are making Lippo Karawaci more and more my home, as well.  Like Thanksgiving dinner with my wonderful coworkers, who are quickly becoming a fill-in family.  Like taking vacations with my friends here. Like lazing around playing board games early on weekend nights, going wedding-dress-picking-uping with a new friend, attending bridge club with the national teachers (I have my Maw to thank for that unexpected connection :)), running into people I know, recognizing parts of the city, finally knowing (a bit of) my way around the grocery store.

What’s hardest for me, I’m finding, is trying to figure out how much I am comfortable with this place being home.  I know that I should settle down, dig deep, grow my roots in here, but at the same time that’s a scary endeavor.  A big commitment.  It requires giving something up.

Or does it?  What is the right answer? Will home always be where my family is?  Can one have multiple homes?  Should I always be quick to make the current dwelling home, or is there value in holding onto the past?

Yet another part of me knows that this world is not my home, that I will never feel completely that I belong in any one earthly place, that deep down I will always be longing for something more.

Unfortunately, with an end-of-the-semester, tired-teacher brain being all that I have at my disposal, I have only come up with questions, and have yet to figure out the answers.

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