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Pages from T C's Journal

April 29, 2002

Home. Can you have more than one? Would that negate the very meaning of home? I’ve lived on my own for fifteen years; I’ve lived in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, for over four. Yet when I am planning a trip back to my birthplace of York, Pennsylvania, to see my family, I still catch myself saying “I’m going home.”

Yet I also think of this place as home: my house on Gosling Marsh Road, my town of Shepherdstown, the beautiful state of West Virginia.

Perhaps home is born of familiarity. I know that what I see when I drive down Market Street in my hometown is different from what others see. I don’t just see buildings and street signs; I see familiar places. I see memories.

In four short years, I’ve created and collected the same sort of memories in my new home of Shepherdstown, West Virginia. It is these memories that make me feel like a part of this town, that make me want to call it home. It’s not just where I live; I belong.

A tourist or visitor would drive down German Street and see some cute shops and restaurants and a few townspeople. But I see details. I see a spirit—a living, breathing spirit—that runs through this town. It opens its arms wide to welcome me, saying, “I remember you! I’m glad you’re here! Come, make yourself at home.”

As I walk past the dormitories on campus, I wonder how many of the inhabitants consider this their home. I notice personalized touches on some of the windows: a trophy on a window sill, student’s artwork or posters on a wall, a sorority flag in place of a curtain. Do these things make it home? I bet that, when these students go back to their family homesteads on weekends and breaks, they say they’re going “home.”

The thing is, homes are always temporary. So rare is the person who lives her entire life in the same house. Even Emily Dickinson—one of the most reclusive, private people I can think of—lived in two different houses, not including the year she spent away at school. In the grander scheme of things, we only call earth home for a short time, and then it’s off to the next place. And, where was home before here?

So, what is the definition of home?


  T C Williams is an English major at Shepherd College.

"American Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide" was produced by students in ENGL 446, American Transcendentalism, and ENGL 447, American Literature and the Prominence of Place: A Travel Practicum. These courses were team-taught in the Department of English at Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in Spring 2002 by Dr. Patricia Dwyer and Dr. Linda Tate. For more information on the course and the web project, visit "About This Site." © 2003 Linda Tate.