Home Is Where the Tea Is

Every year for as long as I can remember I’ve watched the same Independence Day fireworks display at the same park, with the same loved ones. This was my first 4th of July away from home. Fortunately, my coworkers made some holiday plans and invited me along for the ride. We watched fireworks from the platform at Liberty Square, right next to the South Carolina Aquarium, where we would normally board the ferry to head to Fort Sumter. Everyone piled in and lined up by the water, waiting for the first crackles and pops of the fireworks to kickoff. It was beautiful to watch hundreds of different people celebrate their country. 

I reflected on what kind of a home the US is for different people. For some like me, it might be the only home they’ve ever known. For others, like my parents, it is a place they chose to make their home because of the freedom and room for growth they would have here. It is also a prospective home to some. And to others, it is a home away from home. While I sat with my coworkers watching the fireworks, I had a thought. All of my peers are from different states, none originally from South Carolina. They come from places like Texas, New York, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, and a few others in between. They left their homes to make new ones for themselves. And as I stopped to think about where everyone came from and where they are going, I realized that I am growing. 

As I get older, I’ll begin to experience things alone, or with different people, and my expectations of what I perceive to be home will change. I’m beginning to see that “home” is wherever I am comfortable with myself. It is more of a feeling than a concrete place. Through my internship position I am learning about placements, and displacements, and the impacts that I have on the world around me. On that platform we sat, a ragtag family, enjoying something that many of us had only ever enjoyed with our real families. And it was still equally as spectacular. I had been afraid that it wouldn’t be enjoyable because I was not in my comfort zone, but what I hadn’t realized is that although it was a new experience, it had the potential to be just as beautiful, despite it being different. 

The following week I was able to go to the Charleston Tea Plantation. It is the only large scale tea production plantation in North America. While I was there they talked about a scary looking green machine they have that combs through the fields and collects the tea leaves quickly and efficiently, grooming its parent plant so that very little manual labor is involved in that portion of the tea making process. The machine they use is a combination of a bunch of other machines they found fitting, and so it is the only one of its kind. They believed the different components of the variety of machines worked best together rather than separately to get the job done.

Because we are so different, we all have something unique to offer to make our spaces and communities thrive. Much like the green machine, when we work together we preserve the fundamental qualities of our home by approaching change and progress with our hallmarks. That is what makes this country a home.

¡Hasta la próxima!

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