For many of us college freshman, this was our first fall away from home. As my suitemates can attest, I was almost literally bouncing off the walls in excitement to go home for the first time since August (those of us who live a bit farther away from our college did not get to go home for Thanksgiving break). I missed my brother, I missed my parents, I missed my grandparents, my dogs, my room, my church and most everything about my little podunk town I called home. But I discovered – you can never really return home.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved catching up with my family. But this isn’t the home I remember. I left a room with bright, mismatched decorations. I came back to a guest room in tones of grey and beige. I left a snotty-nosed little brother who didn’t know what he was going to do with himself when I was gone. I returned to a capable Junior in high school who had coped just fine in my absence. Even my dogs seemed to have forgotten who I was.
The disconnect didn’t stop there. My church had also changed so much since I left. My best friend moved away, and with her went two very strong presences on the worship team. People have stepped in to replace them and are doing a great job. It’s just something I’ll have to get used to. And my high school? Nearly any trace of my Senior class has been removed or painted over. We’re now on the dusty shelves of yearbooks, not to be thought of again until the next big reunion.
This was not entirely unexpected – the thought of change had occurred to me on my way home. I was able to brace myself a little bit. As I remember what once was, I am sad that it no longer is. But when I look at what it can become, that gives me solace.
My brother is stepping into his own. I’m so proud of him (not that I’d say that to his face). I hope my going away helped him in that area. And I’m so happy that my church is welcoming new people into the worship ministry! That ministry was like a family to me, and I’m glad it can be so to others. It’s also exciting to see my church branch out as it grows.
As for my old school, the erasing of our class has made way for the next class to come. Honestly, I think I had more friends in that class than I did in my own, and you better bet I’m coming to bug y’all before I head back to Nashville! I’m so proud of them. This wee, little girl I knew when she was in Junior High is going to be band major next year! The bratty freshman I once knew now is rocking a baton solo! (You can see my niche in high school was band.)
My mother’s words are true: I can never truly return home. My childhood place is sealed inside my memory, hopefully to never be forgotten. But what has come in its place has the potential to be far better.