Home is a word that has many meanings. Sometimes home means the place someone was born; other times, it means the place a person is living at that moment. People have different variations to distinguish the different spaces they occupy. To me, home means a special place surrounded by the people I love and care for the most. My first memorable home was my high school choir room, then the commuter center at university, but now I am so happy to call Amate House my home.
I think using the term home for our house in Little Village became a much more fitting term after spending time away from my community. Although everyone gets to go home for the holidays, I felt much more excited coming back to Chicago than I did going home to Pittsburgh. Of course, I was excited to see my friends and family I hadn’t seen in months, and also going around my wonderful city of Pittsburgh exploring all the new things I had not seen in so long, but it made me realize how important my community was back in Chicago. I felt like all I talked about was my time at my year of service with everyone. This makes sense, considering that is a big factor in my life right now, but even when people weren’t asking, I talked about my housemates and all of our adventure in the Windy City so far. I caught myself doing dishes by hand even though my family house has a dishwasher or turning off the coffee pot after it is done brewing because that is what the coffee drinkers of the house decided to do. Spending time at home also showed me how different intentional community is from the rest of everyone else’s living situation. My family is great, but they showed me that there isn’t that factor of intentionally living in a communal space.
It was also very strange to be in a house where it was so quiet; I saw myself leaving my house a lot because it was so strange being in such a quiet space. There were so many things that surfaced while being at home that gave me the ability to reflect on how much this program has impacted me. I was one of the first people to arrive back home to Little Village. I remember thinking to myself that it felt so good to be home. Obviously, traveling takes a lot out of you, but just walking through the door gave me this sense of joy and comfort I haven’t felt in a long time.
My housemates slowly came back from their trips home from the holidays, and it was so nice to see everyone again after being gone for the holidays. The first time we all sat down to eat dinner again was a memory I will never forget. Of course, people were still tired, but the vibrancy that was in that room was something so special. Something I missed so much. Each person sharing their stories about their time with their family and what they ended up doing. We each gave a turn because we all wanted to know what happened during our time apart. We all sat at the dining room table for an extra hour just to be with each other.
This is the aspect of community I have come to realize is so special to me. Being around people who share the same drive, passion, and care for all they encounter. The Little Village community was able to build community from the beginning, but I think this time apart truly showcased how important our community is to one another. I think that community is revealed in these little moments of building and sharing. The one thing I was worried about coming to Chicago was living with a large number of people, but now it is one of the key elements I will instill in my life and forever cherish when looking back on this program.