Today marks the day. Exactly two months ago, I left Madison and drove 10 hours to Cottey. I’m going to try really hard not to count every months that I’ve been here–something about that just seems a bit strange to me–but to be honest, I probably will end up making written documentation of my monthly anniversaries.
I’m mostly writing about this one because at home, in my beautiful room that I miss so much, on my lovely blue but not quite blue colored walls hangs a map of the world. It is on this map that I mark all of the places I have visited, all of the bodies of water I have swum in and all of the places I have lived. The places I have lived are attached by a path of friendship bracelet string, following me around the world. Now in order to mark these places, I first had to determine what it meant to live somewhere. I had a hard time with this while at the same time having the simplest time. I wanted to make it 2 months because then I could included Panama on the map but I also didn’t want to make it 2 months for the same reason. I felt like it took longer to become a native of a place or even more so, longer until you knew the place well enough to say that you lived there. But the more I thought about it, the more I came to think that 2 months was a good time period. The 2 months I spent in Panama were enough for me to feel as if I belonged there and they were long enough for drama to occur and for tears to be cried and for me to make friends and a daily routine. Those are the things that factor into belonging to a place I decided. Not necessarily speaking the language or knowing all there is to know about that place. But feeling as if you belong there. So 2 months it was and 2 months it is.
Which means today, the day during which I spent reading Silas Marner, laughing with Jackie, planning a fashion show with LEO, in class, skyping with Piera and Iida, who made me so happy I could barely contain myself, during all of this, today was formed. Today. The day that marks my 2 months of living here. And it turns out that I was right. It wasn’t just Panama. It was here too. It does take 2 months for a place to really seem like home. Maybe that’s just for me or maybe it’s for everyone, but either way, here I am sitting in my dorm room in my new home. It may have felt like that before but it is now officially my home because by my definition I have lived here long enough to belong. Don’t get me wrong, not everything is perfect. I do not alway feel like I belong here, not like I did in Panama. But over all, I do. Over all I feel like this was the right choice and I am now, officially today, proud to call Cottey my home.
After making that point, I would like to discuss the point, my belief really, that it is not the place that I love. At least not really that is. Of course there are things I love about Cottey that have to do with the place: I love the campus. It’s beautiful. I love the park down the road. The park about a mile to the south of here. I love all of that. I love how beautiful fall is. I loved the rolling hills fo Azuero. They were one of my favorite things about Panama. I love the lakes in Madison. But it was not these parts of nature, these places themselves that make them my home. No, not at all. As you may have noticed my definition of how long it takes to call a place home, is how long it takes to create relationships with the people there. How long it takes to form drama. How long it takes for me to make friends.
Yes, that is it. To me, home is the people in the places. Not the places themselves.
And so when I say I miss someone, Iida for example, or Piera, it is not just a person I am missing. It is a home as well. My home.