A few months ago, my parents and I were discussing flight schedules; I was adamant about just staying on campus over the two-day break my university had allotted the students.
Those two days don’t justify spending a small fortune for the plane ticket home! I’ll be back home two weeks after Thanksgiving for my Winter break anyways! Other people will definitely be staying on campus for the break too, so I won’t be alone!
These are the arguments I presented to my parents as I argued with them about whether or not the trip home would be worthwhile.
Yet I found myself unable to control my excitement as I boarded my plane to the Hartsfield Jackson Airport, and nearly crying as I hugged my sister, then my mom, then my dad.
I’m really glad I had the opportunity to come home for Thanksgiving break.
It was a joy to get away from freezing temperatures and to walk through the airport that I know and love so well.
But then we pulled into my driveway, and suddenly I had become a stranger in my own house. New groceries in the fridge, a different mail pile than I remember. My sister had gotten a new cactus plant and things had moved around, and no one but me reacted to this strange new setup. After all, it wasn’t new or strange for them.
But I had also changed since the last time I had been in this house.
What makes someplace home? Is it the house or the people inside? Is it the environment?
From now on, I will always be a visitor in my home. My permanent place of residence has shifted to another town, hundreds of miles away (at least, for the next four years). I find myself subconsciously referring to my dorm room, my building, my college as home, yet I believe that it’s very possible to have two homes, the same way that the kid of divorced parents might see their two households.
What did I miss? The usual bed and shower, as well as family. Oh, and Chik-fil-a. I missed sending my sister to school; those 20 minutes or so spent bickering about music and eating breakfast at stop lights used to be our special bonding time.
So I tried to take advantage of that opportunity on Monday/Tuesday when I was still in town by waking up at the crack of dawn (7:30 AM) to send her, but I couldn’t wake up that early, so instead I picked her up from school. And let me tell you, sitting in the car with her felt like I hadn’t even gone to college. Still same old Vicky and Cat joking around and sitting in the most comfortable silence every now and then.
On the day that my family went shopping together, my dad and I found ourselves sitting in the food court waiting for my shopaholic mom and sister to finish their business. I had a pack of cards in my purse, and the only game my dad knew how to play was a math game that he’d taught me when I was a little kid. Essentially, excluding face cards, you draw four cards and try to use addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to get the number 24. It made me a math whiz.
Anyways, I hadn’t played this game for ages. In fact, my family used to play cards as our designated “family time”, but that all changed when I started high school and my sister started having more tennis practices and we just grew out of the activity.
Playing with my dad gave me a major bout of nostalgia. He won nearly every game, and I was shaken by how badly my basic math skills had deteriorated, having been battered by logarithms and derivatives in recent years. It reminded me of other aspects of my life that followed a similar path.
My life used to revolve around basic concepts and simple ideas. If I wanted a pretzel from a stand at the mall, I used to have to ask my mom for permission, then money. These days I may have a credit card in my wallet and I may no longer have to ask permission to eat a freaking pretzel, but for some reason I hesitate at the thought of spending money or eating unhealthy foods. I don’t want to consider how these calories will add to my figure. Why can’t I just have my cinnamon sugar pretzel from Auntie Anne’s?!
Part 2 coming soon!