After we move, we often find ourselves searching for pieces of home.
It is terrifying to leave the safety of our parents' house to go to school, find a job, live on our own and make a new life.
In these unfamiliar situations, bits and pieces of home seem to put us at ease.
I remember finding so much comfort in anyone who knew of my hometown when I went out of state to college.
I craved the home-cooked Italian meals I grew up with and was brought back to my childhood with every whiff of crisp, Colorado mountain air.
I reached for these things and these places to create some familiarity in a new, overwhelming environment.
It's human nature to try to rebuild home wherever we go. It is where we found comfort as children and it is the environment we understand the best.
But longing to go home is only an illusion because when we leave, home slowly dissipates.
Yes, I know this sounds depressing. But stick with me for a moment.
We change and we grow with age, just as hometowns change with time.
Our friends move away, buildings are torn down and the routines we once maintained no longer hold the same satisfaction.
That odd sense of nostalgia you get when you return to a place you used to live reminds you that these places will always progress without you.
When we return home, looking for that familiarity of what we once had, what we are actually searching for is the sense of home. We want to feel at home no matter where we are.
But as we get older, we realize that home is not a physical place; it is a feeling.
Home is feeling secure. It is feeling loved by those we spend time with.
We search for the ability to safely throw ourselves into new experiences with the solid foundation of our family and friends to catch us as we fall.
So, we rebuild homes, leaving marks on each town we live in.
Each coffee shop holds a new memory and every apartment is molded into a mini-sanctuary, even if only for a year or two. We think these spaces create bits of home.
With maturity, though, we realize these places are not home either. They are temporary and will be filled with new faces as soon as we leave.
We know we will never really have a complete sense of home again, no matter where we look.
Our “permanent” homes are now replaced with the ability to find pieces of home in the most beautifully unconventional moments.
We find home in our friends, snuggled in bed after a long night out, complete with headaches and laughter all the next morning.
Home is waking up to your legs intertwined with another's under the bedsheets, being pulled in closer as the sun is rising outside.
Home is the safest embrace of your parents when you return from school, smelling a home-cooked meal on the stove.
Home is spending time the people we love the most. It is within the connections we build among the people we love.
We get the incredible opportunity to build new families from our friends as we move along through life.
Our physical homes are consistently replaced with these feelings of home and this sense of security.
I believe this is one of the most vital components of connection we learn in our 20s.
The sense of home puts us at ease, making room for us to boldly navigate the world on our own.
As soon as we find this and accept that our hometowns are a wonderful memory of the past, we can brush the familiar attachments of our childhoods to the side.
This isn't to say we forget about where we came from, we just gain the ability to propel ourselves forward, strengthening our current relationships rather than living in the past.
Our people are our homes. We can strengthen and build them, or move on as we please.
We can find home as we travel, move and settle into unfamiliarity so as long as we create those connections that feel so right. Home can be found exactly where we are and who we are with.