I recently returned home after spending nine months abroad, living mostly as an independent adult, buying food and cooking for myself, always doing my own laundry and not having to adhere to a curfew.
I live in a small small rural community: some of my neighbors include cattle, as well as my dad's side of the family. It is almost like living on a compound. I grew up on my family farm, so spending an academic year in a large town that was forty five minutes by train from London, was big adjustment, but an amazing one. In a town called Reading in the county Berkshire, England, I found myself. I found who I was.
When I got back to the States, the initial rush was just to get to the other side of the long line at customs, because I knew my grandma, best friend, mom and dad were all on the other side, and this was the longest time I had ever spent without seeing my grandma. So the high of seeing her (and everyone else) did not wear off for about a week and a half.
But when the high wore off, when I had seen most of my family, I hit a wall. I was still waking up at four in the morning because my brain was telling me it was nine. I was miserable, as most of my friends were still in school, and everyone was busy while I was stuck.
People would ask how my year abroad went, and that was when I found that there are two types of people: the kind that really want to hear what you want to say and the kind that just want to hear that yes it was amazing, and be done with the conversation. You can watch the second group's eyes glaze over if you say much more than it was amazing. But we all know, it was more than that.
So much more.
I came home and things were different, and people were missing. People I think about and miss everyday. There were new stores and some were gone. And I was not the person I was when I left. I was used to being on my own and now, I have to give my parents a time frame of when I may be home at night, and let them know where I am going. I no longer have somewhere to go out dancing that is just a bus ride away; I have to ride a few hours to do that. I do not have a whole house of friends that I can just go to and say "Hey, let's go to Oxford for the day", or "let's just take a train to a tiny village just to see what is there".
I did not expect this feeling, although I knew that I would miss England. That was a given. But I did not know that Luray, Virginia was no longer going to be a good enough place for me to land. I am a stranger in the place I know the best, where the people know me the best.
So while country roads will always bring me home and back to some of the people I love most, I will always have wanderlust. My hometown is not where I belong anymore. It is a place where I will visit, but I have seen that there is so much more, and I can not wait to explore it.