Like a good college student, every couple of months I come home to visit my family. This Saturday evening, I’m back sitting at the kitchen table for the first time since winter break. As I type this, the sky is glowing gold, the sun is setting over the little man-made neighborhood lake, my brother is returning from a high school percussion contest, and my boyfriend is sitting on his laptop across from me. He is another new addition to my life since college, who agreed to come home with me and has been well-received by everyone except the dog, Bonzo, who eyes him nervously always and will occasionally snarl.
So far today, I’ve watched my sister swim several races and gone out to eat at a favorite pizza place. Later, I’ll give my boyfriend a tour of where I lived for eight years: the fountains, my giant public high school, the best places to walk, and the best restaurant to buy empanadas. But I’m also enjoying just hanging out at home with my family around me. Things that I took for granted before, from sleeping in a queen-sized bed to siblings to Starbucks, are now privileges. And here it’s insanely calm, in a way my residence hall never is. Here I don’t hear my wall-mate having loud political conversations on the phone; I am never woken up by drunk sorority girls stumbling back late at night. Suburbia bored me when it was my permanent residence, but now I recognize its freedoms in a way I never did before I was crammed into a half a dorm room. My house seems huge and deliciously private. It is rife with quiet corners and cushy lounge chairs. The only people allowed in are people I know and love. Plus, I don’t have to eat in a mediocre cafeteria. Instead, I have access to a refrigerator full of Dr. Pepper and Bluebell ice cream and leftover egg casserole.
Much of my appreciation for home, I know, has to do with my introverted desire for solitude, and some can be attributed to how awesome my family is. Not everyone is in those situations, though. And plenty of adults despise returning to their parents’ house. It can be stifling, maybe, or it can remind them of hard, awkward childhoods. But for me, a weekend at home is barely enough.
Getting back to campus, I’ll be excited to keep analyzing literature, dancing, and hearing the deep chime of the bell tower every fifteen minutes. There, I am challenging myself, getting the nerve to ask more questions about the world. I am learning from my friends and professors -- this is the plus side of having people all around me.Yet, going home, at least at this point in my life, is weirdly magical. I look at the place I grew up in a new way, appreciating the concrete path around the water and watching the street lights flip on when the sun sets and the sky goes dark.