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Where I feel most at home

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MARCH 03, 2023

I have always firmly believed that home is where we live — or rather I’ve succumbed to this ideation because of its relevance in pop culture. We are the generation that grew up with the notion “there’s no place like home,” and we are the generation that gets the privilege of witnessing Ginny’s dramatic poem about where she belongs in season 1 of “Ginny & Georgia.” 

A friend once told me time and time again that home is where the heart is, and while I cringed at the sappiness and how cliché the quote was, I feel that its sentiment remains true in some regard. Ironically enough, this is my homage to them, as they’ve gotten me to acknowledge that home is a state of mind, or rather a state of being where we feel liberated enough to exist for the sake of existing. 

Every time someone asks me where I’m from, I immediately default to San Diego without thinking too deeply about it. Although I will always feel the most at home in San Diego, I’ve learned in these past few months that simply being present in San Diego doesn’t necessarily mean I feel automatically at home. If I’m in any random place there, it doesn’t necessarily hold the same sentiment as the life I was raised on, the life I once lived and the life I vividly recall. 

When I think of home, I imagine myself at my best friend’s house, eating cookie dough while she bakes, dancing in the kitchen to “All Too Well” by Taylor Swift. 

I feel at home when driving up and down Highway 101, windows down, inhaling fresh ocean air and singing at the top of my lungs until my voice quivers and cracks. I feel at home when it’s 7:45 p.m., when the sunset consists of dancing pink and purple hues and my friend plays a tune on her ukulele during one of our picnic traditions. I feel at home when spilling noodles to drown in a soapy sink and cooking up a warm pasta dish to soothe my anxieties. 

I feel at home drinking a salted caramel latte at my favorite coffee shop while observing how the clouds move, how the wind brushes against the plants. I’m at home when the waves crash against the shore ceaselessly and harmoniously with a friend’s laugh as when we rejoice about our fondest memories. 

These are particular moments that I long for, and no matter how often I do them I will always look forward to them. 

Simply being in San Diego isn’t the same if your childhood friends aren’t there not only to lift your spirits, but to allow a side of your soul to actively breathe which had been dormant when you were away. 

I haven’t been in Berkeley for that long, but part of me feels like I’ve lived multiple lives here. 

When my suitemates and I karaoke until our voices have bothered every neighbor, dancing and performing like little kids underneath the golden hues of our Christmas lights, I feel at home. When my best friend giggles in between incoherent sentences, scrambling together the words to describe something funny that happened in her dorm, I feel at home. When it’s time for my monthly coffee chats with a variety of friends that I’ve met at different times, when we sip on our caffeinated beverages, allowing spontaneous topics to arise, and existing alongside the wide array of hustling baristas and hyper-fixated students on iPads, that I feel at home. It’s especially when I realize that people here can have a presence in our lives that feels far more profound than being a mere acquaintance that I feel at home. 

When I sit in the hallway of my dorm and call a friend to hear their voice reiterating life updates, I feel at home, even when I hang up the phone and ache, because those few minutes of a call are reassurance that home will never abandon me no matter where I go. 

I refuse to believe home can be compiled into one person, place, thing or even one sensation. 

Home is a multitude and a — sometimes cluttered — mixture of things that I could never pinpoint and attribute to one singular noun or emotion. To me, it’s a moment in time where I only want to take a snapshot of it in my mind and cherish it forever. 

What’s lovely about feeling at home is that we just know — and while we can try to articulate it to the best of our abilities, it’s our own entity that we should seek not to understand and conceptualize, but to enjoy and simply exist in peace.

Contact Aimee Han at [email protected].

MARCH 03, 2023