Home is such a funny thing to define. Is it the place you grew up? Your parents’ house? The place you live now? Simply a hotel you’re staying in?
I always find it funny when I accidentally say, “Let’s go home,” and I’m referring to a hotel, or a friend’s house, and it takes me back to this question: What is home?
Maybe home is the place you can be yourself. Some lucky ones can find this everywhere (I’m SO jealous!) – while others are lucky if they can find it anywhere. I fall somewhere in the middle. It depends on who I’m with, how I’m feeling, the vibe of the environment, etc. But the place I felt comfortable as “myself” for the longest, the place where I am closest to home, is Kecskemét, Hungary.
I felt the most at home there during my 10 month exchange after college, and it still feels amazing now, as I’m returning for my first visit since leaving on June 30, 2011, the day my student visa expired.
For me, it was much easier to honor my true self in a place the held no memory of my other selves. I studied hard, played hard, made some of the best friends of my life, and met the amazing man who is now my husband. I didn’t really learn the language, but I saw a lot of the the country and fell in love with many aspects of living in Europe, like; walking everywhere, living at a slower pace, outdoor markets everyday of the week, public transportation, and at least in Hungary, honest communication. I’m from Texas, so southern “friendliness” abounds, but it’s not really friendly in the sense that it leads to friendship.
Hungarians, and maybe most Europeans in general -at least all of the ones I met at school- know how to be true friends. And if they take the time to talk to you, they will take the time to be friends. It isn’t a matter of penciling you in when it’s convenient.
In the days leading up to flying back here, I felt like I was scratching open a long-healed wound. I arrived at night, and when I woke up in the morning, I was already tearing up, knowing that this wound had completely re-opened. As painful as it is, I will spend the next few weeks squeezing in as many new experiences that I possibly can, knowing that my heart will break again when I leave. I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s very true. It’s similar to when you love someone so much, you find yourself crying while thinking how when they die, you’ll have to live without them.
I love this place so much that it hurts knowing I’ll have to leave again soon. My husband and I plan to buy a flat in Budapest as soon as possible so we can rent it out to students during the school year, and live there during the summer.
I don’t know when we will have enough money for that to happen, but I do know that when we can come back more often, it won’t be so hard to leave.