I still remember the day i packed my bags to leave India and board the flight to USA for my Masters. I was unlucky in terms of finding cheap housing as i started the process really late. I was rejected by one housing complex and the other was full. The only option me and my ex- roommate were left with was to share a room in a sprawling house, just off campus. There were free shuttles every 20 minutes and it wasn’t a bad walk from school to our place, the only catch was that it was super expensive.
When we moved in, apart from it being a furnished apartment and all the stuff we had in our 5 bags together, there was nothing. We went on quite a few shopping trips before the house was to our satisfaction. We happily welcomed guests/ friends in our house. I even remember one of our friends telling us our house felt more like a home than a house.
It had a lot to do with our efforts to make it feel like home. We made sure it felt warm. Of course we did deal with mess (hers and mine) but we cleaned our house every weekend. Bathroom, kitchen, living and bedroom. What also helped was that the washer and dryer were in the unit itself.
Then, we had a mother figure join and live with us. It almost began feeling entirely like home. All too familiar. Before i could realize, the semester was over. I was going back to my actual “home” for the break. I couldn’t wait to get back to Mumbai to celebrate Christmas like I’d known for all these years.
When the time came and i boarded the bus to leave Rochester, i had a very weird sense of loss. I felt like i was leaving a part of me behind. It was little short of a gut wrenching pain but the sadness was evident. As the bus rolled by i had a tear run down my face. I couldn’t even fathom why, at the time. Now, in hindsight, it seems to me that that was my first “symbolic” home. One that i worked hard to keep. One whose rent was paid through my hard work throughout the month. One that signified that i was becoming independent. One that made me realize, dreams do become reality.
Today, i live in a smaller apartment, with three others not so far from my old home. Nothing can take the place of the first house that I made home. More importantly, it is the city that you adopt too and Rochester has been kind. I absolutely love this place, it is peaceful, serene and gives me space. One that was much needed for someone like me. I have enough people to socialize with and i can switch off and enjoy some quiet moments by myself.
As i count days down to another trip this weekend. I wonder if i will still feel sad and anxious at all. I feel that might not happen but what sure will is that i will be very excited to be coming back home in three weeks. As Thanksgiving approaches, i am thankful and grateful for all the wonderful people i have met at school and in the industry, at my office and otherwise.