Any one who knows me well enough knows that four years ago, Hurricane Sandy changed my life. The days leading up to Halloween my senior year of high school was spent watching the storm wash my house and memories away instead of preparing my costume for the holiday. The weeks that followed consisted of faking a smile when it was time to go back to school while everything at home was one stressful situation after another, trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces.
Christmas Eve that year, we moved into a mobile home placed on our front lawn. This rectangular, three bedroom, two bathroom, trailer looking "thing" became my home for the next nine months.
Senior year came and went, and before I knew it, I was packing up the car to start my freshman year at college. If we are keeping track here, this would technically be move number two. Out of my childhood home and into the mobile home, and then out of the mobile home and into my college residence hall.
I lived up my college experience to its maximum potential. My freshman year, I made friends, tried new things, got involved in different clubs and organizations, and learned more about myself. That summer I went back home, but it felt strange. Instead of spending the three-month summer vacation in the house I grew up in, I felt like a visitor in my own home. Long Island felt like home, but the house felt foreign. I made the most of it though. I decorated with pictures and unpacked the remainder of my belongings so I could feel a sense of comfort when I laid down every night, hoping one day I would wake up and no longer feel like a guest.
Those three months passed quickly, as summer always does. Once again, I found myself packing up the cars for another semester at Oneonta. I was going back to my second home. A little less than halfway through the semester, I received news of my acceptance into the Disney College Program. Ecstatic to say the least, I began to prepare for my February move down to Florida for the following six months. If we are still keeping track, this is major move number three.
From February to August, I finally had a consistent place to call my own. My apartment in Florida was home. There were no breaks during my internship; any time I spent away resembled a vacation. Between long work days, playing in the parks, and making numerous memories, the six months flew by. Once again, all my belongings were packed up again. A week was spent on Long Island before Oneonta became my home for my junior year; move number four.
After a great six months in Orlando, essentially creating a home and having a group of friends resembling family down there, all I wanted was to move back. To me, it made more sense. Long Island was home yes, but the house there was feeling more and more foreign to me. Junior year's breaks were spent traveling, visiting my Disney friends all over the country. At its conclusion, I packed up all my belongings again and made the over 20-hour drive back to Orlando; move number five.
How can you complain when you basically live in Disney? You can't. Once again, I had another magical filled summer, with even more friends, more memories, and great experiences. However, I began to feel homesick.
It was strange at first; where is home? Long Island? Oneonta? Orlando? I began to feel lost.
Another summer came and went, even faster than the last, and I packed up everything again and moved back to Oneonta for my last semester; move number six.
That is when everything hit. I was done, exhausted, and simply ready for stability. I became ready to go home; back to Long Island home. The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy took me on an emotional rollercoaster these last four years, but I'm hopping off now. With graduation right around the corner, I am preparing for my seventh, and final, major move for a while. It is time to accept the devastation as a part of my past and another aspect of who I am. The tragedy shaped me into who I am today and will forever be a part of who I am. However, now it is time to move on, move home, and start over.