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Thoughts on Home: Life Post-Semester at Sea


The following piece is a reflection from Spring 2014 Semester at Sea student Angela Weinberg, a rising fourth-year student at the University of California, Berkeley.

Liminal: 1. of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process. 2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

As I have now returned to the city I originally started, sitting still and immobile, I feel as if I’ve never been in more of a liminal space today than I ever did moving from place to place. It’s ironic. I have traveled the world for the last four months, wandering through cities with no direction accept to get somewhere at some point, constantly finding myself in undefined places with the only consistency of my surroundings being the people whom I love migrating with me; and I assimilated to that reality so well, that now the idle locale seems more liminal than the undefined ever did. I feel as if I am existing in a new space between the person I am now and the person I used to be. I feel as if the undiscovered became truth, and the discovered became but merely a basis to compare this “unknown” to. I feel as if the repetition of a seemingly repeatable present reality feels not only stagnant, but almost dishonest–disingenuous to the identity I have thus formed around maintaining an ever-changing and exciting external reality.

I learned that the idea of “home”‚Äîas defined by an immobile location‚Äîin essence, does not exist. While traveling, “home” became the comfort of my best friends having my back at all times, caring for my welfare, protecting me from strange people and places, and most importantly, me returning the favor. “Home” became the chance to learn the deeper hearts and minds of those whom I saw on a daily or weekly basis, despite the context or location that such meaningful conversations took place. “Home,” became but merely a cognitive space‚Äîcontrary to our understanding of the word as a distinct pronoun, i.e. an area proclaimed as a constant place to dwell for safety and security. Instead, I found the most utterly satisfying sense of security from the minds that surrounded me, that helped me feel inspired, hopeful, and happy‚Äîwhom picked me up when I was down and whom sat next to me when I needed a shoulder. The physical then simply became a means to an end, a location in which to carry such conversations.

I cried in many places around the world, for many different reasons‚Äîout of compassion for those whom live with less opportunities than I, out of longing for my family I left behind, out of gut-wrenching and abdomen-pounding laughter, out of absolute amazement for the mind-altering awe I could never have prepared myself for…out of the unbelievable amounts of love that incessantly swelled inside my chest for those around me who I grew to deeply care for. It did not matter the reason for such tears, nor the country or crevice I physically cried in, every occurrence resulted in the same: there were people whom loved me enough to stick by my side as I let the tears flow free, without judgment, and with nothing but support. Such tear-fests would always end in some ridiculous joke that would make this girl laugh, probably too easily than warranted (I tend to laugh very often and very quickly, at things that perhaps aren’t even truly funny, I admit). The point is, all tears, when surrounded by the right people, have the potential to end in laughter and appreciation. And if there is one rule to showing vulnerability, it is that when reciprocated, a bond forms between people that one cannot intentionally replicate, and simply cannot break. Vulnerability allows friendships and relationships to grow stronger in trust and hope, and although I knew this as truth before, I now see this fact as a “home” in itself.

In such a perspective, perhaps homelessness does not necessarily exist. Perhaps what we all run so desperately from is not homelessness–in the fear of personal inadequacy and financial insecurity–but instead¬†hopelessness–of a life incapable of interpersonal human connection and anxiety in looking towards a stagnant, pre-set future. Perhaps, what we all truly need to experience is a little of the liminal, where we have no place to go, and no place from which to return‚Äîphysically, emotionally, mentally‚Äîso that we may learn to feel comfort in the discomfort, and understand the critical importance of finding enlightenment in the innate orientation of ourselves amongst the complex cogs and plans of the universe.

Thus, “home” does not have to be a physical location. As humans, as long as we connect with our most humbled and instinctual sense of humanity, we can find “home” anywhere, and everywhere, we go.

It’s strange, yet funny, because after all is said and done (after I returning to the physical “home” I claimed California to provide before), I now feel as if I belong everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I have no single home to return to, in a physical sense, because the entire world is my home. More importantly, I have found a home in the hearts of the beloved people in my life.

Perhaps this is what being a “global citizen” really means: finding a deep sense of safety in security in relation to the other humans that you love, and whom love you back, despite these earthly “limitations” of space and time. As Nat King Cole once wrote in his very famous song lyrics, “the greatest thing you will ever learn, is to love, and be loved, in return.” And although my “people” may currently live in places scattered all across the globe‚ÄîGermany, New York, Australia, South Africa, Canada, San Diego, Hawaii, Ohio‚Äîmy heart will always find solace in the knowledge that their hearts are my home, and I will forever look forward to and cherish the time I get to spend with them, no matter how short or prolonged such meetings may last. And, I cross my fingers, that some of those relationships will grow to surprise me someday in the future, and develop into more of a “home” than this liminal girl could have even ever possibly conceived of herself.

A special thanks to Semester at Sea for allowing me the opportunity for this personal discovery.

  • Life on Land

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