“Home is where the heart is.” —Pliny the Elder
“If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home.” —Malala Yousafzai
My spouse and I recently began our twenty-third year of living in Metro Atlanta. As we’re now empty nesters and beginning to think about where we might move when he retires, I’ve been feeling a tug toward New York. I’m also feeling guilty for thinking about leaving, because this is my home now.
When I recall how homesick I was in the early 2000s, I feel sorry for my younger self.
In those days, when we’d take the kids to Turner Field, I’d stubbornly root for my home team, The Mets. Periodically, when we’d discuss the events of the day at family dinners, I’d ask my spouse, “When are we going home?” Our youngest child, the only one in our family who was born here, would inevitably protest, “We are home!”
We moved here after an extended dual-career job search primarily for my spouse’s work, and he has been employed at the same university since August 1999. I have a more portable profession—teachers need only students and books, or access to a good library—and I’ve moved jobs several times since we arrived. First, from a synagogue to a K-8 school, to high school, to contract work from home, back to high school, and then to another synagogue for two years, of which all but six months were spent working from home. Finally, in August 2021, I returned to the high school where I’d taught twice before, The Weber School.
They say you can’t go home again. I say they’re wrong.
From the moment I donned my mask and stepped through Weber’s double doors, I was home.
After three months, I’m able to articulate the reason behind this feeling. What I’d missed about being at Weber, in addition to teaching other people’s teenagers, was working with teachers. I missed having lunch with the Jewish Studies team and sharing what we were doing in class; helping the ceramics teacher load or unload the kiln; swapping book recommendations with English teachers; I even missed last-minute subbing in AP math and science classes.
Although I’m only working part-time at Weber, in the classroom 4 days a month for about 2 hours on those days, whenever I enter the building I have a sense of coming home.
During these fleeting hours, I’ve been co-creating interdisciplinary curricular units for two Spanish courses and team-teaching lessons with smart and supportive colleagues. They continue to reassure me that I haven’t lost my knack for teaching teenagers, and acknowledge how demanding and celebrate how rewarding teaching is. After each unit, my mind is occupied with ideas to improve the lessons and tweak the curriculum for next year. I feel energized striving for excellence and fulfilled knowing I’m contributing to the development of this innovative project in education.
Since returning to Weber, I’ve come to appreciate the wisdom of both Pliny and Malala.
Home is not only a physical place. It is also an emotional state of being.