From the moment I started my senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to "get out." I desired to escape the small, Michigan, hometown I grew up in and never return. I wished to leave the dirt back roads, the same people I had known since first grade, and the one stop light in town I swear I had spent half my life waiting at. There was no more waiting as I applied to 15 schools for college, and dreamed of moving on to new adventures and challenges I would never get in my hometown.
And so I did. Without moving out of state to school, I don't think I would have grown and evolved as much as I did.
However, when I look at high school friends that stayed stationary in our town or attended school 30 minutes away, I can see ways that that evolved and grew too. Everyone took their own paths of life and staying or leaving was nothing to be ashamed of.
When I told people at 18, I committed to moving to Florida for a school 1,000 miles away, they would look at me with shock and exclaim, "But you're such a homebody! What will you do without your sister or your mom?" All of my friends knew that my sister and my mom were my rocks. Would I really go to all the college events alone to make friends like I claimed I would? I was the girl that never partied or ventured out much in high school. I ran cross country, I studied and spent the weekends with my families or close friend group. I was shy and didn't put myself out there to be exposed to different places or people. So understandably, I knew my choice was shocking.
However, have you ever trusted your gut though and knew you just had to take the risk? Maybe it was going on a date with a guy who makes you so nervous or traveling to that place you never thought you would go. Perhaps it was taking that class or risking that job you were stuck at for a different one. I just fell into the conclusion, I had to take the leap of faith. I did so - on a steaming hot August day, I packed up my car with my mom so tight that there was no room to breathe. We drove 24 hours through the night and moved me into my new life the very next day.
Although I spent the past four years making new memories, experiencing new aspects, and spending endless nights that turned into days with the people I now can say I love the most; in retrospect, I can confidently state I always had the same support system I did back home.
As my college graduation approached so did my reluctant feelings in deciding what my next chapter in life would be. A decision many college seniors face — where would I go from here. The way I saw it, I had three choices:
1. Pick up and move across the country again and start all over.
2. Stay in Florida and take the job offer in the same city.
3. Attend grad school near my hometown.
While all had their ups and downs, I took as some would say one of the safest bets. However, for me it wasn't. Returing home, was a familiarity I never was sure I would return to, but I was surprised. The peculiar thing no one tells you when you move near your hometown is how much it grew or changed with you. When I left the past four years, in no way did I think my hometown would change as much as it did. In some ways, parts stayed static. The same backroads still give me the same nostalgia as they did when I drove down them during holiday breaks. I would catch myself thinking of the spot where my high school boyfriend me through after prom or the time my best friend drove freely the time she got her license. The same stop light still stands high in the center of town, taking far too long to transition to "go," but stands as a pause and time to reflect while waiting.
Yet, parts of the hometown grew and evolved as well. My best friend that lived down the road is selling her house, and that gazebo you used to sit at on those hot summer days there will soon be gone. Some of the only cafes I used to go to were removed, and the smell of the favorite foods I was familiar with vanished, replaced with new scents and unrecognizable people, coming in to eat at the places I once was so accustomed to. While some things never change, some do and the unfamiliarity, if I am being transparent, creates a sense of realization that nothing gold can stay. Nothing gold can stay — at least in the stability it was in before.
With stationary, comes boredom. People often pick up and leave because they get tiresome with their life. The characters in their world, the setting, or the plot as well. If we see ourselves as characters in a book, a different chapter, and a sense of setting is essential. However, the familiarity of returning to a good book still has a sense of wonder. While I am not sure how I feel about all aspects of the current chapter of my life, I know how wonderful the familiarity of a setting can be. I also recognize that no matter how many times you have revisited a story, adding more chapters can be made into a whole other series, filled with new opportunities as well. While I am not sure where this chapter in my life will take me, I know that each page will turn into something new.