Since acquiring my own house at university; having a space that I am able to make mine, living with people with whom I chose to live, not (for the most part) having to follow anyone else’s timetable for meals or housekeeping, I have felt much more settled in Durham. I have, on more than one occasion, found myself calling my house in Durham ‘home’ (which I am sure has traumatised my mother far more than she is letting on).
Due to circumstances, I was not able to go back to my original home to visit my family for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, and although I yearned for the holidays with my family, surrounded by the people and customs and traditions that I have known my whole life, this is a slightly different feeling from ‘missing home’, which I had not yet felt this year. It was only when I arrived at home that I realised how much I had missed it, and how important it was, and will always be, for me.
I hadn’t realised that, even at 20 years old, nothing would match the feeling of contentness I have when hugging my mother, laughing with my sisters, rolling my eyes at my father; things that previously I took for granted, and didn’t realise how important they are in my life until I had them back in it.
I enjoyed being around people who don’t look at me like I have three eyes when I use words like ‘schlep’ or ‘schvitzing’, and not having to count out how much meat I use for fear of running out of kosher meat, which is obscenely difficult to get in Durham.
I enjoyed being able to take a long, luxurious, hot shower without worrying about the hot water, and be able to use a dishwasher instead of washing up by hand.
While I realise that these are not luxuries everybody is fortunate enough to associate with home, they are things I have grown up with, and being reunited with them was delicious. I enjoyed being looked after and pampered; I enjoyed being able to be a daughter, rather than an adult, even if just for the weekend.
Back in Durham, I relish real life too; even with the cooking for myself and walking in the rain and cleaning ovens and clothes washing, there is very little I would change about my life here. Which led me onto the rather existential question; where is home for me now? They both feel like the place in which I belong, and when I am in either I miss the other. I realised what may possibly be the most important lesson of my life thus far:
There are two ways of looking at the situation: it can either be that, because I always feel a pull elsewhere, that I am never fully in one place. Alternatively, it can be that I am fortunate enough to have two places in which I feel wholly at home, at peace and comfort, and I should relish the feeling when some people don’t even have one. My glass, and the glasses of so many other students at university, are more than half full; they are the whole way full.
Ellie Hyman is a second year student at Durham University studying English literature. She grew up in Manchester and is half Israeli.