Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Redefining Home

Sadly I am now in my final three days of my Colombian adventures. I have to say, it is bittersweet. These past four days have made me especially sad about leaving because I have visited some of my favorite sites. On Sunday I made my final trip to the markets in Usaquén which was sad because I wanted to buy everything, but unfortunately a volunteers budget does not allow for such things. I did get some wonderful gifts for family and friends though, and a new notebook for myself because I just can not resist the amazing notebooks made by Margarita of Crakel Arte Textil. And I just got back from a relaxing three days in Villa de Leyva, a quaint colonial town about three hours outside of Bogotá. This was my second visit and I must say that I am even more in love with this town than I was the first time. It is beautiful, tranquil, has an incredible history, is filled with delicious restaurants, and it is surrounded by gorgeous mountains, what's not to love? But enjoying these past few days so much has made me realize how much I will actually miss living here.

Eleven months ago I was very worried about leaving the United States and moving to Colombia. I was moving away from "home" and moving to a place that I had never visited before, where I stick out, and where I didn't really speak the language. I was both terrified and excited back then. But looking back on my experience, I can not imagine having been anywhere else in the world this past year. It is hard to site the exact ways this experience has changed me as a person, and even if I could really pin point them, they are rather personal. But I can say that I am grateful for this year and that Colombia has become a special kind of home to me.

I grew up in a fairly rural area of New Jersey, and while as a teenager I may have complained about living in such a boring place, it was home, and always will be. Then at the age of 18 I moved too Washington D.C. to complete my college degree, I absolutely loved living and studying in my nation's capital, and it became my home, and always will be. And then I graduated and moved to Colombia two weeks later, fell in love with the Spanish language and Colombian culture and it became my home, and it always will be.

Now it is almost time for me to leave Colombia. Many people are asking me: "Are you excited to go home?" But I can't quite say I know what 'home' means. Home is no longer just New Jersey, as it was for so many years of my childhood. "Home isn't merely a place we inhabit; it is a lifestyle we construct (wherever we go), a pattern of routines, habits and behaviors associated with certain people, places and objects..." This is part of a quote shared with us at our end of service conference last weekend, and that specific part stuck with me. I realize that it is now time for me to start redefining what 'home' is, because for so long I have tried to give it a simple definition. I am now realizing that it is not that easy...

My good friend and fellow volunteer, Brighid, shared this quote with me recently, and it really struck a chord within me. I can't quite explain or comprehend how I am feeling during these last few days, but every time I read this quote it makes me tear up; it is painfully perfect...

"You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place." - Miriam Adeney  

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