"I don't want to own anything until I know the place where me and things belong together. I'm not quite sure where that is just yet. But I know what it's like... it's like Tiffany's... What I've found does the most good is just to get in a taxi and go to Tiffany's. It calms me down right away, the quietness and proud look of it; nothing very bad could ever happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits... If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany's, then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name." - Breakfast at Tiffany's (novel), by Truman Capote
With no classes for the past several weeks, I've finally had some time to crack into my personal summer reading. First on the list was Truman Capote's novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (later made iconic in film by Audrey Hepburn, which I have unfortunately yet to see), but I had no idea that the story would have such an impact on me. After all, it was written before my parents were even born, and its images originally seemed way too glamorous for me to ever relate to.
Then, of course, I opened the book.
For those of you unfamiliar with Breakfast at Tiffany's, it's all about this beautiful but eccentric girl named Holly Golightly who lives in a small apartment above the unnamed narrator who loves her. The novel details their growing friendship, and reveals the secrets of Holly's life before New York (as well as the scandals she involves herself in afterward). Throughout the story, Holly shares many of her own life philosophies, which ultimately provide a deeper insight into who she really is. One of the central conflicts in the book is Holly's search for a place to belong; as much as she loves NYC, she never really considers it home. Because of this, she can never commit to much of anything; it's the very reason why her calling cards say "Traveling" and she never named the cat that lives with her.
Holly's struggle to settle down made me think a lot about my own life and what it means to be "home." Before college, I had lived in my house in South Florida for sixteen years and never questioned my belonging there. I loved my little city and I always knew what was going on; I couldn't imagine leaving it behind, but at least I knew there would always be a place for me.
And yet, a week into my first semester of freshman year, I was already referring to my dorm room as home. In fact, "I'm almost home" now meant that I was approaching my building and scrambling for the keys, not that I was actually driving to my house. Three hours from what was once considered home, I found myself bonding with new people and no longer dependent on others. When I called my family on the phone, I no longer felt as much a part of what was happening in their lives because of the many miles of separation. And when I did return to my house for holidays and breaks, my room no longer felt quite like my room.
So what is "home" for me now? I was born in Illinois and yet I feel no connection to the Prairie State whatsoever. Meanwhile, I lived in my childhood home in Florida full-time for most of my life and it holds many memories, but nowadays, my room feels more like a museum of what my life was than a living space for me now. And I have been an Orlando resident for nearly a year now, but as much as I love the location and the friends I've made, the city separates me from some of the people I love the most. Like a chameleon, I've been able to blend in no matter where I've lived... but at the same time, sometimes I feel like a traitor to the home I've always known.
As college students, I feel like it can be difficult for us to figure out where we do belong, since we're constantly back and forth between our pasts and presents. What I want to know is this: what makes the place we live our home? Is home the place where you have the most friends, or where you spend the most time, or where your family lives, or where you have the most memories? Is it possible to consider more than one place home? How do we know when it's okay to commit to something?
How do we know where we truly belong?