A year ago we were all graduating with lots of hope and high aspirations for how our first year of college would go. We walked in lines to the catchy graduation tune with high spirits, wondering what life would be like in a year. Well now that year has passed and we are all returning to our home towns.
We've each experienced a year like no other at our chosen university. Some have had the best year of their lives, whether that means partying until the sun rose every weekend or achieving the Dean's List. Others may have struggled as they experienced a year they had hoped would have gone better. Either way we all are congregating back to our old hometowns. For many this can be good because we will get to see our families, old friends we've missed, and of course our pets! At the same time. we are leaving this place we now call home and the friendships we have made here.
As we travel to the place we grew up, memories of past summers rush back. We are returning to the streets where we went for night drives listening to our favorite "late night" songs. We are returning to the place we experienced our first kiss and first heartbreak. We are returning to the people and memories we left as we deserted our hometown in August. As we return home we will run into those faces who we once knew well and are now strangers. We will also see those happy faces we have been waiting to see for months. Finally we will get to see those friends we haven't gotten to see since we left for separate colleges. These old, valued friendships will change because of the time spent apart and new friends we have all made since being gone.
May I not fool you, though, coming home to that small town should not be seen as a negative. We return home and remember who we were before community showers, frat parties, and those occasional all-nighters in the library. We will now have curfews again but at least home-cooked meals. Since we have been away we have eaten our favorite dining hall's chicken nuggets or enjoyed some fresh cooked pasta at the far dining hall -- that was our everyday food. Now as we return we will request all our favorite meals to be cooked because if we eat one more chicken nugget we might throw up. Mom's spaghetti will never have tasted so good! As we return home we cannot forget we are not the only people adjusting back to our old routine. Our parents and siblings have adjusted to having that empty seat at the dinner table... did someone sit in our seat while we were gone? Our families are thrilled to have us fill our seats again. We are returning to the people who love us most.
While returning to our spot at the table we really can't be sure what we are exactly returning to. Over the course of this one year we have grown and changed. Time didn't stop when we left home, so it seems inevitable that things have of course changed there. Maybe Dad's hair has gotten a little more grey and Mom redecorated part of the house which will now look foreign to your eyes. Those certain younger siblings haven't stopped growing either. Not only are they probably a foot taller, but they have grown up more and are becoming their own person. They may have become a more sarcastic teenager, or maybe have made new friends who you've never met.
Despite these changes, this place we are returning to will forever be home. It will always have the same smell and that welcoming feeling of comfort because it is home.