St. Mary's College of Maryland

The Mulberry Tree magazine is published by St. Mary's College of Maryland, Maryland's public honors college for the liberal arts and sciences. It is produced for alumni, faculty, staff, trustees, the local community, and friends of the College.

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The Mulberry Tree
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Cont'd from Home by Rita McDermott:


So if “Home is Where the Heart Is,” and my heart is scattered around the globe, where is home for me? The Eastern Shore is now “where I grew up” or “where my family is.” St. Mary’s is “where I went to college.” Colombia, well, I can’t define that yet. Though I did grow immensely there, it is not “where I grew up.” I learned as much there as I did in college, but it is not “where I went to school.”  I do get homesick for Colombia, but I have a feeling most people would be rather puzzled to hear a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, native English speaker who doesn’t currently live in Colombia call Colombia home. Yes, all these places, and more, have the warmth, the emotion, the memories of homes, but I do not say “I’m going home” when I am en route to any of them.

When I say, “I’m going home,” I mean that I am headed to my apartment in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. More of my heart is in Maryland and Colombia than in Vietnam, but there are pieces of me here too, in the honks and vrooms of the chaotic motorbike traffic, in the steaming bowls of pho eaten street side on plastic stools, in the determination  of my students as they write and rewrite and rewrite.  Unbelievably, when I unlock my front door, immediately dropping my bags after 28 hours of travel, open my balcony door for a view of my neglected plants, and plop on my rock-solid sofa, I am home.

Regardless of how many different places my heart is, home is where I can watch t.v. in my underwear. Home is where I can hang whatever I want on the wall, and do. Home, simply but honestly, is where my routine is, where my stuff is.

Some may say that I wear the word home too easily on my lips. Others have already told me that I will not be able to continue dropping pieces of my heart different places for much longer, that I’m actually just making myself homeless.  Another person has compared me to Voldemort and his horcruxes, a metaphor I think is quite aggressive and hopefully entirely off the mark as I have no evil scheme to take over the world, just experience it. To these doubters, I say this: home is too complex to be defined on a decorative wooden sign.  And our hearts are too big to be confined to one “home.”