Going away to college is a weird concept. Home becomes a shoebox of a dorm room where you live with strangers who at some point become your best friends and the family that you have in this new home. But then, without you realizing it, the end of the year sneaks up on you and you're packing up all your belongings and heading back to the place that you had called home all those years before going away.
When you arrive in the place that you called home for so long you feel like a visitor. Suddenly, the places that you grew up in feel strange and all the restaurants and stores that you spent your time in are different. Only little things have actually changed but somehow the entire city looks foreign to you. It used to be home but you have a new home now.
The people you grew up with, went to high school with, played summer ball with, they all have new homes now too and you feel like you're starting off new. You kept in touch while you were gone-- told stories, laughed, and cried-- but somehow you feel like you're being reintroduced to new people because well, they are, they have lived elsewhere just like you do.
However, the longer you stay in this place, the more comfortable you feel, and before you know it, it's as though nothing has changed. You become attached at the hip to those friends that had felt like strangers when you first arrived. Everyone is settling into their old routines and it's nice. The reality is that when you leave home, home doesn't leave you. You grew up there. You spent your summers on those beaches or in those parks. You learned how to drive on those roads. You had your first kiss under those bleachers. It doesn't leave you, and it doesn't leave those friends either. You come home and you feel out of place, but then you remember what your place is and you feel comfortable again.
Faces become familiar again, your routine becomes familiar again, your life becomes familiar again. And while you're sad that you're going to pack up again in a few short months and move back to school, you know that when you return home, a home will be waiting for you with open arms. You will spend another summer staying up all night telling stories about your amazing professors and horrible neighbors and it will be just like the good old days.
That's what home is about. It's about being able to go away but always having somewhere to come back to. It's about the people that are there, who share the same stories as you but also went out and wrote their own chapters. So wherever home is, whoever is there waiting for you, no matter how different experiences you had writing your own chapters, a home will always be there ready to welcome you back.
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