As you buy plane tickets and pack toothbrushes into suitcases and plan many months of your lives (and maybe even years in the future) far away, I’ve given a lot of thought of what home is and why it’s so hard, at least for me, to leave. Home, more than everything else, I think, means safety. There’s something about home that distinguishes itself from the rest of the world. It’s as though the city itself, with the familiar sidewalks and coffee shops have your best interest in mind. After all, they are the same sidewalks you were riding when you fell off your bike as a kid and the same coffee shops you sat in, hiding behind cups avoiding eyes looking back at you across the table. At home, the world seems to keep an eye on you, seems to keep you wrapped in the warm embrace of familiar faces and streets. You always know where you’re going. The town seems to carry you from place to place with little effort. You’re untouchable. No one ever expects anything bad to happen to you when you’re home. Roots seem to ward off violent car accidents and horrible diseases, or at least we treat them as though they do. And if nothing else, a first aid kit is always nearby. You’re never far from people who know you, who will take care of you even when the world seems to tell you you’re on your own. But in reality, the world doesn’t have to be a scary place that’s out to get you, that wants to see you fall. It can be a place that’s rooting for you, constantly too, hoping that you’ll find a comfortable place in it amidst unfamiliar faces and streets, that you’ll find your way despite street signs you can’t read. It can be place that desperately wants to get to know you better, that values discomfort and vulnerability and growth and understanding enough to wrap you in its arms and keep you safe even when you can’t move past your nerves to realize it.
The best part of home is knowing you never have to be alone. You always have someone, and someone who knows you well, someone who understands why it’s so difficult for you to speak sometimes, someone who doesn’t freak out when sad things make you cry and combats your tears by smearing them all over your face calling them moisturizers. It’s effortless, and friendship comes as unconditionally as family. And while I’m not ready to have those adventures away from comfort and familiarity, know that I want you to go. Know that I don’t want to keep you here. Know that I understand we’re different and that I don’t ever want to hold you back. Know that I’ll miss you a lot and I’ll remind you that I miss you not because I want you to come home, but because I miss you all the time when you’re gone, and I can’t not tell you. I’m afraid you’ll forget me. I’m afraid you’ll find a world that’s more exciting that this one, that you’ll find a world that doesn’t need this crybaby. I’m afraid you’ll find a world, one without me calculated into it, that’s better for you. But know that I want great things for you, that I want you to find beautiful places and new people to reciprocate smiles and hugs in this grand world even if it means I don’t get to be close by. Know that I’ll make it hard for you to leave, but not because I don’t want you to go, but because I love you very, very much.