They say home is where the heart is; but what happens when you’re in college? Where is home? Is it the tiny two-bedroom place for which you religiously overpay each month; or is it the house in which you grew up, where the entire contents of what was once your bedroom are currently crammed into half a closet in the den courtesy of an overzealous little brother who seems to think that your absence gives him carte blanche to replace the room you inhabited for almost 20 years of your life with a shrine to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue?
You could say home is the place where you get your mail, the place where the majority of your stuff resides, or the place where you sleep most often. For Santa Barbara residents, home can be a web page where you share all the inane details of your daily life with the world, a mansion on the Mesa, or a big bicycle that carries boxes of printouts with information about how the first animal ate the first vegetable and the first vegetable ate the first mineral and so on and so forth. And, let’s not forget bars, coffee shops, back rooms at work, and best friends’ couches — all perfectly acceptable candidates for the title of home away from home.
Forget that whole “you can never go home again” thing after you move out of your parents’ house — the real problem is trying to figure out what home is. And even though I just bought a great pair of patent-leather, peep-toe heels that could definitely be classified as ruby-colored, no amount of heel-clicking has managed to solve that quandary for me. So it’s time to try a different approach. They say home is where the heart is — so the obvious question when trying to figure out what I classify as my home is: Where is my heart? Now, I watch enough Grey’s Anatomy to know by now exactly where my heart is located in terms of the rest of my organs, and what to do if it ever gets broken by a hot doctor, but somehow I think that just saying home is where my body happens to be at any given time is a cop-out — and kind of depressing too. I’d hate to think that at certain times, home is the Buchanan bathrooms, the line at Grafikart, or the only desk in I.V. Theater 2 that I’ve managed to find without a few years’ worth of gum adorning it.
So, in a more metaphysical sense, where is my heart now that I’m a certified student at lovely UCSB and a certifiable (you kind of have to be to live here) resident of Isla Vista. Well, without getting too cheesy, I’d have to say my heart is with the people I love. Sure, my immediate family lives in Los Angeles and the city of angels will always have a special place in my heart. But even though I love my family, I love L.A. and I love the fact that the laundry facilities at my parents’ house are free, the more time I spend in Santa Barbara the more I feel like this is home too. Maybe it’s because I have plenty of people to love here as well. The friends who take my 1 a.m. distress calls, open their big comfy beds to me when I’m sexiled, match me shot for shot and bad joke for bad joke, and make everything from watching CSI to road-tripping to the Olive Garden in Ventura an adventure; my two “adopted” older brothers in Santa Barbara, who are largely responsible for keeping me sane and successful; and my fellow Isla Vistans — from the guy who held open the laundromat door for me this morning to the random group of girls who let me walk with them down DP last night when the catcalling got to be a little too much for me to handle alone.
I guess when it comes down to it, home is more of a state of mind than an actual place. I may not love everyone in I.V.— and, for the record, asking if you can come home with me when I walk past you on Del Playa is not the way to get any loving out of me — but I have a lot of love for a lot of people here, and that makes it feel a lot like home. With that in mind, it’s always gratifying to see people around town doing things to help make life a little easier for our crammed college community. That’s where the folks behind IVXChange come in. This little website, located at ivxchange.com, is like an online bulletin board, featuring information about local events and housing, plus job listings and classified ads for everything from books to furniture. There’s even a section of deals and coupons specific to the I.V. area and information about class-note exchanges and campus life in general. Sure, I.V. is only one square mile, but you’d be surprised at the variety of goods, services, and events available within our little town.
And whether you love it, hate it, or just plain spend too much time in the library to really experience it, I.V. is nothing if not our town. Ultimately, we may only be here for four years, but as far as I’m concerned, I.V. is home. At least for now. And, whether we’re talking about supporting our sexiled friends or scoring cheap couches, there’s no place like it.