My back against the window, the hostel living room is filled with the gray light of snow. It is a quiet day here, most people slept late and everyone seems to be hibernating in their beds or behind the screens of electronics.
As the days here are numbered, each moment seems infinitely more precious than the last–and even though I love to sleep, it’s hard to persuade myself that sleep is more important than staying up until 4a.m. When I came down at 3 last night, with the intention of making more tea before bed, I ended up cleaning and washing dishes. The half lit hostel was heavy in its silence, and it was strange to be among the last people who were awake. As I was drying dishes and putting them away, it hit me how much this place has grown into a home for me.
Even though there are still so many people who I have not talked to as much as I would like, I have succeeded in making so many deep connections with many people, and I feel so blessed to be around this talented group of people.
I have learned more through living with 31 people for almost a month than I have in a long time. I’ve learned when I need my own space, and how to be quiet with other people, and what happens when almost everyone leaves the hostel (I bounce off the walls). I’ve learned that trying to force myself to write poetry doesn’t work. I’ve learned that it’s okay to write things I don’t like.
I’ve pushed myself in ways I never would have guessed–I have climbed a mountain that was over 12,000 feet tall. I went a walk that was 23 miles long. I have fallen in love with so many people, and learned how to support people in ways I never have before.
And there’s so much more that I’m only beginning to understand. It feels strange to me to think about being home in a week. And saying that I’m going home feels strange to me, because right here, right now, this is my home. But the house where my family lives is my home, too. This morning I contacted a family that I hope to stay with when I travel internationally and if it works out, that place will likely become a home to me, too.
I hope I am lucky enough to have many places I can call home for all of my life. I don’t believe a home has to be a house, or any one place. A home is a safe place where I may or may not return, but can be my full self in. I home is a place where I love and feel loved.
While it’s all too easy to count the days or hours left before I have to leave on Tuesday, I feel unbelievably blessed that I have this home right now. That I can listen to the laughter and the tears and the silence of the people here with me. That I will continue to learn from these experiences every moment I’m here, and even when I leave. And though my heart will break when I have to leave on Tuesday, just like it broke when I left to come here, it will break open. It’s the kind of pain that is not only worth it, but is beautiful because it means that I found a place where I belong.
The top of Mt. Crested Butte (elevation 12,162 ft)
Quiet mornings writing letters.
Snowy mountain view on our 23 mile walk.
Eric making apple fritters.