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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

Finding My Way Home

A couple of months ago, I heard a Buddhist teacher say that he travels to feel more at home within himself. He described how all we enter the world with is ourselves and in the same way, all we will leave with. This idea that we are the only reliable home throughout each of our lives seemed isolating to me so initially I rejected the idea, but I continued to think about what that meant for me: “a home within myself…”

Throughout each of our lives, our definition of home will inevitably change. Whether it be a predictable change that we choose like leaving our childhood home and heading into the world or an unpredictable change like the earthquake here in Nepal that literally split homes in half, one place will never be a constant home.

As someone who has lived in the same home for as long as I can remember, I’m very attached to my idea of home. Home for me is the yellow swing in the front yard, the blackberries in summer and all the memories I associate with it. It is the place I grew and learned and spent time with my family. Last week, when my community in California was seriously threatened by the wildfires and many of my friends lost their homes, this quote came to my mind. Although this may sound trivial in the face of so much loss, what I have realized is that home for me is not a physical building but rather a feeling. That’s not to say I don’t need a roof over my head but what’s important about a home is not how big it is or how nice the furnishings are, home is about the love that it holds and the family you share it with.

This family, my homestay family, has taken me in with a warm embrace and shared their love and in doing so, given me a sense of home in an unfamiliar place. Though their house it is not large, as I sit with my three older sisters (whom I refer to as “didi”) and homestay mother “ma” making decorations for Tihar, the festival of lights, I feel as if I have truly found a home. Home here is the yellow tinge of my finger tips from eating daal bhat with my hands and the scent of incense that drifts through my open window from the temple across the street. Home is the red tika my homestay father, “ba” blessed me with on the first morning I arrived. Home is the increasing ease in moments of discomfort and the growing confidence I feel in unfamiliar places. Home here in Nepal is the new sense that the world is my home and the words of that Buddhist teacher are gradually forming to be something I relate can with.

What I’ve realized, is, for me, home is the home I grew up in California and the home I live in with my newfound family here in Nepal. Home is all the love my family has instilled in me throughout my life and the memories and values I carry within me. Home is the love my homestay family has given me. My home is within myself but it is not lonely or isolating, it is colorful, kind and full of the love of my family, as I carry them with me each step of this journey.