When I was seventeen, my family moved across town from the house I had grown up in to my parents’ dream home. It was a change I welcomed with open arms, as I was leaving behind a bubblegum pink room with a horse quilt and wall decor for a sophisticated and flawlessly decorated happy place that I designed from scratch. But I never fully registered the change as something big in my life, despite how colossal it in fact was.
Added to the situation was the melancholy I had always had laying inside of my ribcage. Every once in awhile, particularly around this time of year in April and May, I start to feel the overwhelming sense of just everything in its entirety; if that doesn’t make sense to you, it shouldn’t. It doesn’t really make sense to me either.
Subconsciously, I began to tie everything I saw and heard in the April of my junior year to the sentimentality of a home. Every song, book, and movie began to hold incredible meaning to me, and what I was learning in school became exceptionally poignant. At my high school, junior year English and history courses are centered around American Studies. Between April and May, we had to complete a research paper on any topic in U.S. history. I chose to analyze how the writing of the Beat Generation and the rock n’ roll music of the post war years influenced the youth revolts of the 1960’s; pretty light stuff for someone who had just been up and left their childhood home.
Before I had fully unpacked my old room into my new, I had history textbook readings due. Before I even left my old house, I was doing research on the Beats and the Beatles, trying to come to some conclusion about the 60’s counterculture. Everything became intertwined, and I found myself as strongly attached to 20th century America as I was to everything else I encountered.
Because not enough was happening in my life that in the spring of 2015, I toured Emory over my April break, which just so happened to be the week after I moved. Without me even realizing, all of the puzzle pieces that would make up my life began to come together. I analyzed all of my English readings through the lens of my history lessons, and looked for the influence of literature in every time period I studied. I couldn't stop talking about how comfortable I felt in Atlanta. Everything started to make sense.When people ask me why I am so set on studying this period from two different lenses, I don’t know how to explain it simply. I always say, “I don’t know. I just like it a lot.” It’s hard to explain in one sentence that what I’m studying reminds me of home with my big bay window and the tree outside of it, and candles on my desk, and what rain sounds like at midnight, and the big spring festival that I could walk to from my new house, and sitting outside on the balcony I had always dreamed of with my dog, reading about World War II and Kerouac.