It wasn't until I casually mentioned to my mom that I would do something when I got home that I realized the irony of my statement. Where’s home? Did I mean my parents' house in NJ? My current residence in KC? My new "home base” in LA where I'll be in the offseason?
So many two-letter location abbreviations. So many zip codes. So many new addresses I barely memorize before switching to yet another. So many packed bags, unpacked bags, trips to Target and Home Goods to stock up.
In my transient lifestyle, I've begun to realize that home for me is not a residence, but instead a state of being. It’s not an outside location; it’s an inside, emotional location.
Here are four ways I define my home:
1. My people. This can mean, and has meant, a variety of different things throughout my life and soccer career. Any time I'm with my family or boyfriend, it becomes home. And as a habitual teammate, I have found myself in various situations with other members of my team that lend themselves to forming extremely tight bonds. Throughout college, and after, I have had many amazing best friends and companions that have become family while we share a life experience. I keep in touch with these friends over the years, and our bond was certainly linked to the life we shared for a very intense and relatively short period of time. “My people” are family, friends, teammates and the Jewish community in Sweden. They are the ones who “get me” the most, have seen me most vulnerable, and with whom I can be myself without thinking twice. This bond of love and support is my home.
2. Fields. Brookdale Park in Montclair, NJ, will always be my home. I can come back after years and feel that nothing has changed. Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, NC, is my home. When I first showed up in Kansas City with my dad, we went out to a tennis court with a wall the first night we got there. Immediately, it became my home. I never feel more comfortable or more free than when I have a ball at my feet and a space to use it. I can be anywhere in the world and find comfort on the fields and courts. These sanctuaries are my home.
3. Traveling. Nothing makes a place feel more like home than the first time you travel and return there. When I lived in Sweden it didn't feel like home until coming back from my first away trip. It’s the fact that unfamiliarity is all relative. No matter how new I am to my living place, all it takes is traveling somewhere even less familiar to make me look forward to the return. As a homebody at heart, I crave the stability of somewhere to come back to. This comfort is my home.
4. Memories and Routines. I cling tightly to routines and personal rituals. That’s not surprising, based on how much my life is in transition. I enjoy foods that are familiar, my travel mug full of tea every morning, and my foam rolling routine. I can hear a song that brings me back to Sweden, smell something that reminds me of living in Maryland, or hear a phrase that makes me think of growing up in North Jersey. I cling tightly to this familiarity. These feelings are my home.
Having so many physical homes can be difficult because of the constant upheaval. I've learned to find the comfort of home in the emotional connections I make, wherever I'm living. As much as I still dread the question, "Where do you live?" because it requires a two-minute explanation, it's comforting to realize that my home lives inside me.