My favorite four-letter word.
Let me preface this article with this brief catch-up:
College is WONDERFUL. I truly could not be at a more perfect place. It is the middle of my first semester, and I could not have better reports. Classes are going smoothly, I've made a boatload of new friends, I am involved in multiple activities on campus, my roommate and I get along perfectly, the food is decent, independence is awesome, and hall bathrooms are actually a good place to meet people. I am enjoying every minute of college life, soaking up as many opportunities as possible, because I have been warned how fast it flies by.
However, no matter how great college is, or how many parties are being thrown, or how many papers I have to write, I will always come home.
One and a half months seemed, at times, to fly by. I was so busy adjusting to college life-attending class, studying, making weekend trips, cheering on the football team, having fun with friends, etc- that I didn't have much time to worry about home. Home was always a phone call (or text) away; I never felt like home was a place I couldn't reach. I said "I miss my dog/bed/shower," but I didn't realize how much of my heart was truly still at home until I went back.
Fall break came at the end of a slow week. I eagerly awaited my trip home; I was ready to see my family, dog and friends. I was also ready to sleep in my own (queen-size) bed, take a shower without wearing shower shoes, go to my church on Sunday and do all my other favorite hometown things.
Before I went off to school, I remember people asking me when I thought the first time I would come home would be. I told them when Fall Break was, but added that I didn't know if I would want to come home then or whether I might go somewhere with my new friends. As the first few weeks of school went by, I figured out that answer for myself very quickly.
There is a definite difference between being homesick and missing home. I have not been homesick at all. I have, however, developed a greater appreciation for home. I have realized it is completely okay to miss aspects of home as long as you are still happy living in the moment. Home will always be waiting, so it's important to enjoy where you are and let home wait for you.
So, here's how my first visit home from college went:
My drive home seemed like the longest drive of my life, even though there was no traffic. I smiled when I saw the sign letting me know I was within the limits of my county, and that smile got even bigger as I passed all of the places that were familiar to me. I pulled into the driveway and my mom and dog ran out to greet me. (Dad wasn't home from work yet.) We went to pick up my brother from practice and I squealed and jumped on him (probably embarrassing him but that's nothing unusual). Throughout the next three days, there were lots of hugs, lots of happiness, lots of home. I completed my checklist of things to do while I was home, so I was content.
It was strange to pack a bag to go home, but it was even more strange to pack up all my things three days later and leave home again. Last time I had left home, my family had come with me and helped move me into college. Now, one and a half months later, I was heading out on my own. My car was packed full with three bags of winter clothes, one bag laundry I had brought home to wash and a bookbag I hadn't opened in three days, but it still felt a little empty. Once again, I was leaving a part of my heart behind. As I backed out of my driveway and made my way back to the interstate, I thought over my weekend at home. Home was all I hoped it would be, maybe more. It was the place I love, and always will. College is new and exciting, but there's no doubt I will always make the trip home when it's time.
(You're welcome, Mom and Dad.)