[Disclaimer on title worth booing: Kansans are allowed only a certain number of Wizard of Oz jokes in a lifetime and I’ve probably already almost exhausted my allowance at age 20.]
I’m sitting on the couch in the basement of the house I grew up in watching Law & Order with one puppy asleep on my feet and one asleep on my chest, and I can only move enough to type without waking them up. I’ve been like this since 9 am, and it’s exactly what I wanted about five days ago when I was eating my last serving of rice and beans.
My parents, brother, sister, and best friend greeted me at the Wichita airport at 1 am with a large order of Buffalo Wild Wings, and in that moment, I couldn’t be happier. In my last post, the day before I left Costa Rica, I said I didn’t feel sad to leave, but I cried at 5:45 a.m. when I said goodbye to my host parents, I cried at the San José airport at 6:30 as I waited alone to board my plane, I cried at 8:45 when the plane took off and I watched the city I called home for six weeks disappear behind the clouds. I also cried at 1 p.m. local time when the plane landed in Dallas and I stood on American soil for the first time since May (before I ran to TGI Friday’s for my first hamburger in months).
I didn’t know it at the time, but my apparent emotional conflict was in that I was ready to be home, but my definition of home had changed. I’ve seen so many definitions of what “home” is, but I don’t really know which one I accept. My favorite is probably “Home is where your dog is,” but the most popular, obviously, is “Home is where the heart is,” and the hard part of that is that it’s true. I’ve read and heard a million times that the more you travel, the harder it gets to go home, and that scares me to death, because there are so many places I want to go, but I’ve been out of the country once and I spent the whole trip home on an emotional roller coaster.
The more places you see, the more people you meet, the more time you spend with them, the more of your heart gets left there. Living in Stillwater for two years, I’ve started to call that “home,” but when I go to Wichita for weekends or Christmas break, I say I’m going “home,” too. I also said I was going “home” after class when my host mom made me lunch. And now that I’m “home,” I find myself wanting to be in Oklahoma or just somewhere else. “Home” is about happiness, comfort, and people you love. I love Kansas, I love Oklahoma, but I loved Costa Rica, too, and a part of me will always be there.
They say the sun sets the same all over the world, but I think I’m partial to Kansas. There’s no place like home, wherever that may be.
To read more about my study abroad experience, visit my bilingual blog here.