I put off packing my things for going back to school until the night before I left.
Originally, I thought this was due to my constant need to procrastinate and leave things to the last minute. As I was hours away from leaving, I realized I really didn’t want to leave and say goodbye to my family. I dragged my feet the whole day leading up to leaving and delayed our drive start time by almost 5 hours. Driving away from my house tugged at my heartstrings way more than it did the year before when leaving for my freshman year. I didn’t want to leave my room, my dog, my siblings, my parents, or my grandparents. Everything felt like it was going to change while I was gone and I wasn’t prepared for it.
During the summer, my mom and stepdad spent much of it traveling, my sister was in Ecuador for six weeks on a service trip, my best friend and I both worked full-time, and my brother finally got a job. This resulted in me being alone for a lot of the summer. I also spent all summer working to save money for studying abroad and didn’t really do anything for myself. Even though this summer was physically and emotionally draining, it was also one of the best.
My maternal grandparents moved to Kansas City from Omaha last November while I was up at school. So this summer I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with them and I will treasure that forever. My grandparents are 88 years old, so with that, comes health problems. My Mimi has very bad dementia caused by normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) and my Papa is quickly following her with severe memory loss, which makes any time with them precious. Being up at school, I worry that they are fading faster than medicine or my family can handle. I think about them and what they are doing all the time, hoping that maybe they can’t remember how truly sick they are. Because I know as painful as it is for us to watch them go through this, it must be 10x harder for them to be living in it. Leaving them behind in Kansas City was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and I think it is one of the reasons I miss home more this second time around.
My mom drove the 9-hour trip up to Milwaukee to take me to school. This time was spent talking about family gossip/drama, my grandparents, her travel, my work, upcoming classes, and everything under the sun. That was so amazing as it was the second time that whole summer that we were able to talk alone and have an in-depth conversation with each other. When we arrived, those 9-hours didn’t seem like nearly enough time to spend with her knowing I wouldn’t see her for almost 2 months. She didn’t cry, at least in front of me, as she knew I was going to be okay. Yet, that didn’t make leaving each other any easier. We talk on the phone for about an hour once or twice a week which makes me feel like I’m just at home. If I’m ever having a bad day, talking to her makes me feel so much better. -But hanging up makes me miss her even more. I think subconsciously I knew that this was the start of things changing forever. I’m an adult now, even though I don’t feel like it, and the days of living and being with my mom for days on end is quickly shortening. All her little chickens can take care of themselves now, her youngest is 16, and she deserves the right to travel with her hubby as she has spent the last 31 years raising some great kids. I know this and truly want her to experience everything the world has to offer, but I miss the days when she was always just a few steps away from me whenever I needed her. I love Marquette and know I’m where I’m supposed to be, but after a year of realizing how rarely I’m able to go home, it makes being so far away the second time miss her even more.
It was 6 years ago in July that my mom met my step-dad, and it was like gang-busters from there. He’s an amazing guy and I think so often how lucky I am to have him in my life. Not only has he been a rock for my mom throughout difficult times but he has also been one for me and our family. While up at school I miss our chats and nicknames, watching sports, and loving on my pup together. It’s crazy to say, but I even miss our arguments, because I know they just mean he cares about me, which means the world to me. He takes care of my mom and I know that when I leave home I’m leaving her in good hands. Also, he’s my dog's best friend, so you know he’s a good guy. Missing him is like missing your favorite blanket- it makes you feel safe and loved while giving you a safe-haven from the world. Those are just some of the feelings my step-dad gives me. He’s someone I didn’t know I needed until he was there. That makes it so much harder to leave him.
This cannot be my article if I don’t talk about my dog. Let’s be honest, there will never be a day that I don’t think about her and want to talk about her. It was so hard leaving her last year and I cried for about 10 minutes after we had pulled away from my house. I didn’t think it could get any worse or tug at any more of my heart. Looking back, I think what made it harder was the fact that it felt like I had just gotten back to her. When I left previously, I had gotten to spend her whole life with her- while this time around, it was just a short three months. Some people doubt how smart dogs really are, but I’m telling you, Piper is a dog genius. Whenever she sees me pull out my luggage to start packing she gets so sad. She won’t leave my room and wines if I leave her in her room on the porch. The week leading up to me leaving I had her sleep in my bed, despite my mom’s protest, which made me feel a little better. But it doesn’t make being away from her any easier. I think what makes it worse is the fact that I can’t talk to her. The closest I can get is through pictures or FaceTime videos. This time around, I know how much I’m going to miss her, and no number of pictures will make that feeling go away. Which, in a weird way, makes me miss her more.
Now for my sisters: If you’ve read the article that I previously wrote about my sisters, you should know that I got so much heat for that. The wonder-twins thought I was painting them in a bad light and were mad because I didn’t ask them about writing about them. In my defense, I didn’t use any identifying information-so whywould I need their permission- that is irrelevant now. Despite their interpretation of the article, I didn’t write it to make them feel bad, I simply wrote about how felt. That article didn’t mean or say that I didn’t love and appreciate them. I miss them, and their unique ways, even if most of the time they drive me crazy. We might not always show it, but we love each other, and will always have the special bond of being sisters. My little sister is growing up, which is such a foreign concept to me. At 17, it seems like everyday something changes in her life, and a major part of that is being in high school. This time around she is a junior, which we all know means taking AP classes, practicing for the ACT, and thinking about college. I wish so badly I was there for her to help her through the insane process.
My best friend goes to school in a small town in Kansas, so a little bit farther away than home. Things with us are solid in a sense that we don’t have to talk every day to know that we’re thinking about each other. We both understand that life is insane with Greek life, classes, studying, etc. A couple of days ago we pledged to plan a specific time every week to FaceTime for at least an hour. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives we think liking social media posts constitutes a conversation about them. With this being the case, even though we both understand this year is busier and there is more pressure, it makes me miss our talks more. It all makes sense, when I have meetings she is free, when she’s in class I have a break, but it doesn’t make missing her any easier.
This summer my dad got a girlfriend, and if you know him,you know that we thought this day would never come. She’s a great woman and really cares about my dad. They’ve been dating since January (I just met her in MAY!) and I know they make each other happy. During the summer, I got to know her more and saw how she makes my dad a better guy.I wish I was there to see it first-hand. (Again, if you know my dad, you know he’s an asshole.) (It’s okay dad I love you, sort of.) I think a small part of me knows that when I get back in November things will be even more different and I just wish I was there to witness it.
My brother is a piece of work. He drives everyone insane and never listens to anyone. He’s got his own special way of doing things, which doesn’t always end up well. I know he has an amazing heart beneath the whole “I have no feelings” façade. Things can’t be easy for him right now. He switched schools and is going through the process of figuring out which friends he should stick with. I think almost every week how I should be there to help him through it. I went through a rough time in high school (you couldn’t give me a million dollars to go back), and I feel like I could give some insight to the time he’s going through. He's growing up so quickly, now totally surpassing me in height, and I feel like if I blink I'll miss something important.
All in all, this was a lengthy explanation of why I miss my family and home more this second time around. Probably chalked full of information you didn’t need to know. When I started writing for the Odyssey I promised myself that I would be honest and transparent, that nothing was off limits. I truly believe that I didn’t go through what I did just because it had to have happened for a reason. I think that is so that someone out there can learn from what I’ve been through, it can impact someone in a positive way or make them feel less alone. I guess my justification for this article is to not only verify my own odd feelings but have others makes sense of what they're feeling. So that’s my ramble and if you got this far imaginary points for you!