McKenzie Paterson, 129 TESS
I’ve been thinking a lot about home of late. I’ve never wanted to be home more than I do right now.
It takes a lot for me to be a person sometimes – to be what Peace Corps, what my community expects me to be. It’s entirely exhausting and sometimes I feel like I’m all out of grit. I’m ready to take a break from constantly being on. I’m ready to be home and feel like I can breathe, like I can exist without effort.
But in the moments of unadulterated nostalgia, I neglect the home I’ve built here. I erode the depth of what home can be. It doesn’t just have to be a place. It can be a feeling, a moment.
Home is a stampede of students running to give me a giant group hug in the morning. Because even if I don’t think I want it, I need it.
Home is my host-mom making a big batch of my favorite Thai dish, massaman curry, because I’m sick.
Home is inside jokes between me and my family.
Home is, without fail, returning from a run with food in hand.
Home is bearing witness to my students’ wonder and creativity because they’re given the space to explore themselves and their greatness.
Home is my host-sister sleeping in my bed because she doesn’t want to be alone.
Home is the small, but mighty gestures of love and playfulness between me and my students.
Home is feeling safe to be authentically me.
Home is belonging.
Ironically, what keeps me grounded, what keeps me sane isn’t the happenings of my job. It’s everything in between. It’s little moments that have no tangible value, ones that I can’t put on my VRF (Volunteer Reporting Form). It’s the moments that are literally immeasurable. These moments are my home. And they’re what keep me from packing my bags on the days when I just can’t anymore.
I’ve worked hard as hell to cultivate this home. It’s literally taken my blood, sweat, and tears. And I know this home I’ve built is temporary. This present that I sometimes wish away, I will most undoubtedly miss when it becomes my past.
So for all the moments I want to be home, I try to remind myself I’m already as home as I let myself be.