Trying to figure out what "home" means

September 12 2014

Hey guys! My name’s Emmalee, and I’m a second-year behavioral neuroscience student at Northeastern University, in Boston. Back home, in Raleigh, North Carolina, I have a pediatrician mom and a pharmaceutical-chemist dad, a 16-year-old brother who’s already seven inches taller than me, and a ten-year-old tortoiseshell cat who opens all our cabinets.

This past year has, overall, been a great one. Northeastern is a fantastic school, with all these completely unique opportunities, and I have more close friends than I’ve ever had at once in my life, some of whom I’m certain I’ll still be friends with decades from now.

And Boston is such an incredible city. It’s easy to get around, there are delicious restaurants and interesting things around practically every corner, and nearly everyone I’ve met has been welcoming and friendly. People back home told me I was going to hate it up here because of how rough the winters are, and admittedly this past February tested my resolve a little, but it made the spring all the sweeter when it finally arrived in late March. I really couldn’t be happier with my choice to come up here, is what I’m saying. And honestly, I could see myself spending the rest of my life here.


As much as I wanted to get the heck out of North Carolina after 18 years of living there, I’ve found myself missing parts of it far more than I expected, sometimes. I think the food is probably the biggest thing (what do you MEAN, you’ve never had pimento cheese, or grits, or barbecue?!?), but there are days I just long for the mountains, or the beaches, or my home region, the Triangle (the nickname for Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill). For all its flaws, North Carolina is home to a lot of beauty, and a lot of potential. There are great universities and companies conducting promising research, and the local food/art/music scene is flourishing. More and more people move there every day.

I don’t know if that’s enough to make me want to go back. I had good reasons for wanting to leave. And I really do like it up here.

I’m just terrified that no matter where I end up I’ll never be completely happy, because if I go back to where I came from, I’ll remember why I originally left, but if I go anywhere else, I’ll still miss North Carolina on some level, however small.

So far the best way I’ve come up with to deal with this is by carrying little bits of North Carolina with me, up here. I cook Southern food for my friends, and tell them stories and traditions from my home state, and always, always use “y’all” instead of “you guys.” Little bits. Little reminders of the place I came from.

So far it’s been good enough.

I’d love to hear from other people who moved far away from their birthplaces when they became adults. How did you cope with it? Did you leave regretfully, or happily, or a little of both? Did you end up going back someday? And if you have a favorite recipe from your original home, would you mind sharing it?

Anyone who lives in Boston: what’s your favorite place to eat/thing to do here?

(Shameless plug: check out Northeastern radio, WRBB 104.9! We have a website.)

And in the broader sense, I’d like to hear from anyone, about anything! You don’t get to write to 25000 people from all over the world every day.

Best of luck with life,

[email protected]
Boston, MA

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