I'm homesick for a place that no longer exists

“A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past and the departed”

I used to sit out on the front porch roof, right outside my bedroom window, and patiently wait on edge for a shooting star. The silence at 2 am was thrilling. The magic that took over when that tiny streak of light finally made its way across the sky, so sudden it was easy to miss, but so entrancing it caught your eye, would stay with me forever.

I used to wake up so early, especially on summer days. The backyard was enough of an escape for a five-year-old, with the sun barely awake, wet grass under my bare feet, and the sweet scent of summer stuck to my skin as I lost time with fairies and far away kingdoms that existed in the honeysuckle bushes.

On Friday nights when we were little, my brothers and I would get in our sleeping bags and sleep on the pullout couch for movie night. Our mama would order pizza, and we would struggle to stay awake through the entire movie. Friday nights were for Homeward Bound, The Worst Witch, The Chipmunk Adventure, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, Free Willy, and Drop Dead Fred. I remember hiding my face in my sleeping bag so my brothers wouldn’t tease me for crying during the part in Benji when the dog gets kicked. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, the familiar sight of our living room slowly coming to me, and the feel of warm bodies surrounding me.

Even in the dark I could see the pictures in the frames that sat on top of the entertainment center. Even now I can see them, as if they still existed. As if that living room still existed, just inside the screen door with the broken handle, and the ugly green front door that you had to slam to get it to close right.

The stairs were on your right. Those stairs. The ones we used to slide down on cardboard boxes and I broke my butt bone when I was 7. The banister that my mama would put Christmas cards on was the same banister my brother would get his head stuck in so often we would just keep walking by him until his pleas got annoying. The stairs we would huddle on, watching and listening as our parents fought in the middle of the night.

Our older brother would lead us back to his room, the one at the end of the hall, farthest away from the chaos that became a regular 3 am occurrence. He would scare the shit out of us with ghost and murder stories, and then suddenly the sound of our family falling apart downstairs in the kitchen wasn’t that big a deal.

When the kitchen wasn’t a battleground, it was the heart of our house. Pancakes, board games, homework, birthday cakes, multiplication tables, heart to hearts, card games, chicken noodle soup – our kitchen table witnessed it all. That kitchen, with its yellow walls, cracks in the ceiling, and broken tiles on the floor, was the one room in our house where everyone gathered to eat, talk, and laugh. I remember having a friend stay for supper once, and when she was leaving she asked me, “Is that how it always is when your family eats?”

“What do you mean?”

“People just show up, and then everyone sits around and talks after you eat?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“Your family is awesome. I love it here.”

I loved it there, too. The good, the bad, the ugly, the anger, the fighting, the abuse, the comfort, the laughter, the noises, the chaos, the smells. My mama moved into that house when she was ten. She lived there until she was fifty-eight. My brothers and I grew up in that same house that sat smack in the middle of our street, where we were surrounded with neighbors that were more like family. My mama’s childhood bedroom became mine, the first one on the left when you came up the stairs.

I had one window in that room, the room that held my heart and soul all over its walls and my dressers. That window was my escape. It let out my loud, angry music I blared when my insides were just as loud and angry, letting the entire street know as well. That window gave me a view of the sky and the stars and the daydreams that happened in the night because I could never sleep. That window led to the porch roof, where the jump wasn’t very far, making it too easy to sneak out. In high school, my best friend would throw pine cones at that window to wake me up.

When we got too old to huddle in bunk beds and tell ghost stories to forget about the screaming downstairs, that window allowed me a place on the porch roof, where the silence of the night drowned out the timeless blackhole that was my parents’ marriage. As constant as those fights were, so were the stars in the sky to make endless wishes that never came true.

You used to tell me to wish on shooting stars, but that if I ever saw a falling star, to picture my future. I must not have done it right, because nothing happened the way you said it would when I made stupid wishes on dying stars. You’re gone. You left six months after dad did, and I will never understand how you could be so lost after you were finally free from the person that only brought you suffering.

But then you left, too, and all the suffering was left for us. I never stepped foot in your room again, the room where I ran to with bad dreams, sore throats, and tummy aches. I should have, though, because I never got the chance to again. That house is no longer ours, and I haven’t had a home in nine years. Strangers live in that house, laugh in that house, yell and scream, sleep, eat and love in that house now.

And as long as you’re gone and I keep fucking up my wishes on the stars that fall from the sky, I will never have a home again.


Cover Image Credit: Kerri Caldwell

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An Open Letter To My Best Friend On Their Birthday

because your existence is something worth celebrating

An open letter to one of my best friends on their birthday...


First of all, I probably love your birthday more than you because it’s a day solely dedicated to your existence, and no one appreciates that more than me, and this is why.

You are always my number one. When I need someone to listen to my day, you’re there, offering a hug on a bad day, a shoulder to cry on when I’m upset, or just a few words to reassure me. Most importantly, you make me laugh. Even if I’m in a bad mood, you make me laugh. When I should be embarrassed, instead I just laugh. And when I do something ridiculous myself, you make me laugh with you about it as well. Nothing can go wrong with my partner in crime there to watch my back, and of course you know I’ve got yours too.

You never know where this next year will take you, but why should that stop you. I hope this is a year where you smile a lot, learn a lot, and love a lot. I hope you discover something new and exciting, hold on to what you’ve always loved before, and find something unexpected that will amaze you like nothing else, because honestly those are the best surprises. Just remember to take me with you if you are jumping on that bus, train, or plane to explore, because you’re not getting away from me that easily.

Not going to lie, some things will change. Nothing can stay exactly the same forever. But there will always be one fan cheering you on, a person to laugh with who loves you unconditionally, and a sarcastic friend who will keep you in your place while still supporting you to no end. And why is this? Look back at all those years (wow, you’re getting old), and look at the kind of person you’ve become. You’re pretty darn awesome if I do say so myself- you make the job of ‘proud friend’ easy for me. But then again, why do you think we’re friends in the first place? I knew you were amazing before, now you’re just old(er) and amazing. We’ll take every curve ball the world throws at us and throw it back even harder, once I actually learn how to throw.

Here’s to another year of adventures. Here’s to watching movies and videos that we will quote for months, to eating ice cream and having 5-hour phone conversations. Here’s to quoting songs and never being afraid to dance along (or have you laugh at me as I dance and sing along). Here’s to the board games that you may beat me at one day, but not today. Here’s to me being clumsy and stubborn and you being slightly less clumsy but just as stubborn. Here’s to playing would you rather and knowing random facts about each other because of it. Here’s to pizza at midnight, pancakes at noon, and cake on birthdays. Here’s to another year of having you as my best friend.

Happy Birthday!

Forever and Always,

Your person

Cover Image Credit: pinimg.com

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10 Reasons Friendships Change From High School To College

Friendships change as we grow up.

High school and college are totally different yet similar in many ways. They are formative years that develop who we are as people. During these years, friendships come and go. The friendships in college, however, are very different from the ones we had in high school.

1. High school friendships can be mostly surface level.

The age differences between high school and college students account for a lot of the differences friendships face in these time periods. Those 14-18 years old face issues that are very different from those 18-22 years old face. In high school, it's all about who looks good, who is dating who and the gossip going around. Most friendships are surface level and don't necessarily delve into the deeper things in life such as faith and politics. College, however, is a whole different ballpark. Faith, politics, and money make up many of the problems students face. College friends typically dive deeper into intellectual conversations and belief far more than high school friends. This allows the young adults to build deeper friendships than those they have experienced before.

2. College friends spend more time together.

It's no surprise that college students spend a majority of their time around other college students. Whether it be studying, eating or just hanging out, college kids hang out all the time. Even at home, college friends live together quite often and hang out just around the house. In high school, kids hang out at school on a daily basis and during their extracurricular activities. They even hang out on the weekends, if their parents allowed it. Since most college students are on their own for the first time, their friends become their family and they spend as much time as they possibly can together.

3. High school friends know your entire extended family.

We all want to be around our friends as much as possible. In high school, we hang out at school, after school, and on the weekends. We try to invite them wherever we go, including on family gatherings. Our friends learn the names of our parents, our siblings, our grandparents, our aunts and uncles, and anyone else that happens to be around during these times. In college, it's rare to meet the families of our friends unless they come to visit at school. We may learn about our friends' family through pictures and stories, but we don't get to experience them in person nearly as much as we did in high school.

4. College friends see each other cry on a regular basis.

In high school, it's seen as weak to cry. Most high school friends never see each other shed a tear, much less cry for hours on end. College is a whole different story though. I've seen my friends cry over homework and movies as much as I've seen them cry over boys. College friends even see each other drunk cry over nothing at all. Tears and sadness, anger and frustration are common in college and these emotions bond college students together in a way that high school students couldn't understand.

5. In high school, friendships are based on proximity.

In high school, we spend every day surrounded by the same people. We go from class to class five days a week spending time with the same peers and teachers. We don't have to look too far from our normal schedule to find our friends. In college, our day-to-day schedule is rarely ever the same. We have classes, work, studying and so much else going on that it's hard to find friends. We have to go out of our way to meet new people and build friendships.

6. Summertime includes more trips because college friends come from all over.

A college or university is comprised of a myriad of different students. These students come from many states and many countries around the world. This gives college students a chance to travel to new places as they go to visit their friends during academic breaks. High school students all live in the same area and usually don't have to travel more than 25 minutes to each other's homes. New experiences allow friendships to grow and thrive, and in this case, traveling is a great way to do so.

7. Lots of goodbyes occur at a high school graduation.

A high school graduation is the last time many people see each other in their lives. For example, my graduating class was over 600 students. I've seen maybe 10-15 of those people since graduating three years ago. Therefore, many friendships have ceased to exist over the years. In college, however, an effort is required to maintain a friendship in the first place. Therefore, graduation isn't filled with nearly as many goodbyes because college friends maintain their connection after walking across the stage.

8. College friendships can begin in bars.

College bars can be where many friendships begin. Loud music, dancing, and alcohol can help people loosen up and converse in ways they normally wouldn't. Shared experiences and memories can form the basis of a friendship, and bars are a wonderful place to make memories. In high school, most students aren't old enough to get into a bar, let alone drink. While high school students may share other experiences that begin their friendships, those experiences won't be in bars.

9. High school places a lot of limitations on friendships.

With their young age, high school students are usually restricted on what they can do. Their parents and their age places limitations on how late they can be out and what they can do. College students stay up all hours of the night together whereas high school students generally cannot do that. High school students also can't go out all night because they always have early classes during the week. High school students get to experience a lot of things together, however, not nearly as much as college students.

10. College friendships require a lot of effort.

High school friendships can be maintained by talking and spending time together at school five days a week. College friendships, though, require constant effort. Friends in college have to communicate and plan in order to spend time together. They have to make an effort to schedule time for each other and work through problems as they arise. College students face stress in basically every aspect of their life so the effort required to maintain a friendship is well worth it in the long run.

Cover Image Credit: Sam Manns

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