Community//

Refrigerators and Change: On Coming Home

Having lived in the same neighborhood for over a decade, it is strange to discover home as a concept that is newly transient, shifting.

The moment I stepped onto the musty jet bridge that leaned against the airplane, I felt oddly composed. This November, I had flown back to Maryland to spend Thanksgiving with family. The potent combination of homesickness and my limitless capacity for crying seemed to predict an airport tearjerker. And yet, the whole affair, from reuniting with my dad at baggage claim to driving home in the family Honda SUV, was rather anticlimactic.

My parents had put up a glittery “WELCOME HOME” banner, which greeted me in all of its capital letter glory. And indeed, with my younger brother William boasting about his newfound superiority in the height department over yours truly and my parents bombarding me with questions about everything from classes to roommates, it felt familiar and comfortable.

But that evening, after everyone else had gone to bed, I stayed wide awake, ambling aimlessly about the house. Everything was achingly familiar. In my absence, however, the house I grew up in clued me in on the fact that life has moved on. Crimson poinsettias now spruced up the usual array of houseplants. The living room hosted a new whiteboard with William’s scrawled solutions to math problems (ah, I thought, how blessed I am to never have to suffer through geometry again). I meandered into the kitchen. Possessed by the muscle memory of flinging open refrigerator doors in the midst of after-school snack raids, I peeked inside the fridge. Only then did I cry.

In retrospect, the entire scene seems a little absurd and comedic. Even now, I’m still not quite sure why fresh produce tugged at my heartstrings. Perhaps it was seeing the ingredients for the holiday foods we would always eat: wrappers for my dad’s pork spring rolls, the homemade mix for nian gao ready to be baked. Or maybe it was the little changes in their food selection that, however insignificant, immediately caught my attention (since when did they start drinking soy milk?). Or perhaps it was the simple relief of being back home.

Five days before Christmas, I found myself boarding a plane bound for Maryland. My arrival was warmly greeted with similar levels of fanfare, and I was thankful for the respite from Thayer’s communal bathrooms. This time, I did not cry. After a week of waffling in suburbia, I longed to be back in Cambridge. I missed the campus and the people who made campus home. The mini fridge my roommate and I shared had harbored mementos of fall semester. The pilfered provisions from Annenberg, the pint of ice cream from a particularly tough day,  and the neglected restaurant take-out cartons all carry with them vivid and new memories.

Right now, I can only say that I feel a little ungrounded. Having lived in the same neighborhood for over a decade, it is strange to discover home as a concept that is newly transient, shifting. In Maryland, I miss Massachusetts. On campus, I feel pangs of homesickness. I imagine myself to be an wanderer traversing two worlds, animated by restlessness. As I travel, I am increasingly cognizant of this threshold between my two homes: one the backdrop of my childhood, the other a nascent adventure. I’m learning to appreciate this liminal space. Maybe I’ll invest in another mini fridge here.


The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Thriving Through the Holidays//

Going Home for the Holidays

by Vincent James Arcuri
Community//

#SHEROproject Holly Dowling’s Story

by Dawn Burnett
Community//

The Work From Home Cure for Anxiety

by Valarie Angle

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.