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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Finding home

I was only seventeen.
I was about to start college, and I thought I was more than ready to be on my own. I sat on my new bathroom floor, tracing the swirls on the linoleum tile. I was so confused on how I was even supposed to make this tiny, empty apartment a home. I stood up, and had the courage to lock eyes with the girl in the bathroom mirror. And suddenly, it all hit me at once. Being surrounded by these walls that weren’t yet mine, in a place that hadn’t yet been familiar, I was lost.

I had convinced myself that I was moving because I needed to begin school and a new chapter, but in reality I was running from a place I didn’t want to be any longer, a girl I didn’t want to know any longer. But she stood there in the mirror.

I stared at the girl in the mirror and I realized something: a new set of walls, a new bedframe, a new scenery, does not change the person you see. It does not change a feeling of fear, or regret. It does not erase any pain you may feel. Changing everything but yourself in fact doesn’t change anything. You are who you are. Whether you are in a beautiful home or a run-down apartment. On the beach or in an office. What you have to change in order to see change, is the way you view things.

So I stared at the girl who just took her savings and left home, the girl who convinced herself closing one door meant it would stay closed forever. I stared at my reflection and realized something. I had moved, I left the place I didn’t want to be any longer, I had changed everything, except myself.

I sat on the bathroom floor and cried. It was getting dark out, and I realized I had no light bulbs. I could not avoid the growing darkness, so I picked myself off the floor and drove to the nearest Wal-Mart.

 I walked up and down the aisles. I didn’t have much money, and all I really needed was light bulbs, but I wandered until my mind slowed down. Scented candles, throw pillows, picture frames, tiny things that made a home.

I went back to my apartment, and began unpacking. And the first thing I took out was a green memo pad. And I journaled, I wrote hard on the page. I still have the little green memo pad and I still have the entry from that day.  I wrote “it’s not that I don’t recognize this new home, it’s that I don’t recognize myself.”

I took each day that year in my new home trying to make peace with the girl that hurried from her small town. I made peace with her feelings. I made peace with my new surroundings.

I wrote almost every day, I decorated the walls with new memories, I went to therapy, and I learned how to appreciate my solitude. I learned to forgive those who hurt me. I learned that my past could not be altered, and so I forgave. I accepted apologies I never heard. I stopped waiting for someone to come and rescue me.

As the year ended, and the seasons changed, I packed for a new home. While putting things in boxes, and clearing out under my bathroom sink, I stood up and locked eyes with the girl in the mirror; this time, I was happy with the reflection.

On moving day, a family I was babysitting for helped me load all my things in my car. I was talking to the mom about struggles and how I finally feel happy. And how nice that felt to be able to say it and mean it.

She said something that has etched a space in my heart, “So many people think they are drowning, Katie. Because they have been treading water for so long. Their arms begin to flail, and they lose their breath, the feel like giving up, and all they have to do is stand. We are in shallow water, feeling like we are drowning, and all we have to do is stand.”



You don’t drowned because you become submerged under water, you drowned because you have forgotten the simplest thing: the solid ground beneath you is much closer than you think.

My home is a representation of second chances, a life filled with love and gratitude. I carry my home in my heart, wherever I go now, I have learned to be happy. Because we can change our setting and remain the same person, but when we change our perspective, every place seems a little brighter.

I’m wishing everyone a wonderful Tuesday xo


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