What does it mean to ‘go home’?
I recently had the opportunity to visit the town where I grew up. I haven’t lived there in decades, yet, I visited two weekends in a row. One weekend was reconnecting with the past—my high school reunion. The following weekend was spent sharing my present—leading an improv workshop at the Grand Rapids Improv Festival and being interviewed on a local morning show. Funny thing…and believe it or not, I was somewhat shy in high school. I didn’t take a single acting class or ever performed on stage in high school. Yet, decades later, I appear on TV and teach an improv workshop in my hometown.
Attending my high school reunion brought unexpected connections and friendships. New and renewed friendships. Classmates I was friends with before are now in my life again. We shared laughter and stories of old and new.
It felt like I never left-sort of
Having been away from Grand Rapids, Michigan through the years left me with a constant longing for home. Being uprooted after my freshman year of college and embarking on an adventure to Raleigh, North Carolina with my mom and dad, this youngest of six was forced to make a home wherever she was.
Moving from a Midwestern town to a Southern town was a culture shock for this once 18-year-old. I was told I talk funny by people from all over the Southern United States. For those of you not aware, just like there are different Midwest accents—from Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota—there are various Southern accents—from the mountains to the beach of North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
Although my Southern friends and I had a few communication “mishaps,” we always laughed and poked fun at our language differences. Not to mention the different colloquialisms. I was feeling at home with my new friends.
Just as I was starting to feel like I could plant roots in Raleigh, my parents uprooted once again. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer during the summer after my sophomore year of college. After having her mastectomy, she and my dad moved back up to the Midwest exactly one year after the three of us moved to Raleigh. From then on I was on my own.
Constant journey toward home
I realized that throughout my life, I continued to listen to my inner voice, my intuition, and follow my passion and my joys. Multiple times I have had to push myself beyond my own boundaries and limitations. Sometimes by my choice and sometimes because of circumstances beyond my control. As I pushed myself through new experiences, one feeling remained the same…my desire to connect with others, to have a sense of family, and to belong.
My Heart is Where My Home Is
No matter how long and hard I look outside of myself and beyond my inner circle for connection, I am reminded by my loved ones that I am loved, I do belong, and that we are family.
As I reflect this holiday season, I bask in the feeling of knowing that I am home.
About the author: —Julie Ostrow is the First-Ever American Laughing Champion and Humor, Laughter, and Improv Coach. She coaches groups and corporations how to use humor, laughter, and improv techniques to improve communication, connection, and creativity. www.GoFindTheFunny.com
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