I miss everything and everyone so much, it hurts.
This is the first post published from Atlanta in 7.5 weeks, as the rest have all been from Ann Arbor.
I woke up this morning-er, afternoon, after a heavy 15-hour sleep and all of this emotion and soon-to-be nostalgia came flooding towards me. It finally materialized into withdrawal. Today is Sunday, and on Saturday when I left in the morning, I was mainly in shock. It was hard to comprehend that I would no longer wake up in my small dorm room and focus on debate for the next 12 hours or so.
No more practice debates. No more flow paper. No more speaking drills. No more independence, and no more walking long distances between the labroom and the dorms. No more beautiful scenery each and every day, no more waking up to my beautiful roommate Sarah, or randomly seeing darling Connor in the hallways and giving him giant hugs, no more of that. There shall be no more lab nationalism, or dance parties on the girls’ floor, or walking around in a city that I’ve grown to know so well, each and every crevice. No more of my favorite restaurants, coffee shops, or ice cream parlors…
I’m past that lifestyle. No more summer camp for me, unless I’d like to be a counselor. This was the last summer. In years past, I’d always cheer myself with the prospect of going back in the future, but this is really it. Even if I end up going to college there, it won’t be the same as debate camp in the summer, which really made the whole experience.
But at the same time, no more repetitive cafeteria food, no more dirty, unwashed clothes, no more worrying about not having a room-key on me at all times, and no more flip-flops in the shower.
So, there are definitely some aspects of camp that I will not be missing.
I come home to my diverse wardrobe, my big and comfy bed, home-cooked Chinese food, and my loving family.
I’ll listen to music I discovered while there or that was recommended to me by people I met while I was there, and I’ll make sure to make the greatest effort ever to stay in touch with all of the wonderful people I met while I was there, as I will be seeing them many times through the year.
This camp withdrawal will no doubt stay with me for the next few weeks, and I won’t fight it. I’ll scroll through the pictures on my phone, all of the selfies and candid shots. I’ll look receipts and ticket stubs like the sentimental person I am.
If you went somewhere over the summer or just had an amazing experience, don’t forget to remember. These memories won’t change, even if the people might. Freeze these moments in time, the important ones. Chances are, I’m not going to remember that one debate where we lost or won (unless it was an epic upset debate or something…*wink), but rather, the people that I spent it with.
I am never stationary. I left debate camp much more experienced and learned than I was when I left, and I rode an emotional roller coaster. I can say with confidence that I did not expect things to turn out the way that they did, but hey, I regret nothing.
You’re going to go many places during the course of your life, but I think it’s absolutely vital that you have a place that you refer to as home.
Home…is the center. Wherever you call home has shaped your personality is so many subtle but intricate ways. It’s the foundation and the location that you compare to every other place that you live.
Personally, I would be fine travelling from place to place, as long as I never forgot where I grew up. Home is the city that I lived in for the majority of my childhood. Even though I have since moved from there, the city will always have a special place in my heart. Whenever I drive half an hour back to this place, nostalgia overwhelms me. There’s the backyard that seemed to never end, the beautiful willow tree that I used to play under, and the neighborhood bubble tea joint run by the adorable couple of grandparents.
Home wouldn’t be home without the people that made it such; some of my childhood friends have since departed from the city, but the memories are still there…
The nomad life seems to be an inevitable part of life. Of course, lots of people stay in the same city for the entirety of their life, but I find nothing wrong with leaving your hometown for college and moving somewhere else, as long as you never forget where you come from. As long as a certain physical location is remembered with metaphorical significance, and as long as you never feel ashamed of your background, it seems completely appropriate that you may venture all over the world. The opposite – never leaving a city – has the tendency to confine you to a physical location and mental perspective.
There is no place like home. – L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Yesterday at debate camp, we had an intense discussion about a college debate team that used the Wizard of Oz as a metaphor for the debate community that they wanted. So that got me thinking – does a home necessarily have to be a place? Why can’t it be an activity or a community?
Debate is my home. It means not being ashamed that a majority of my friends are in the debate community, and it means that you feel more comfortable being yourself than anywhere else. It entails making memories that you will look back to and remember. It’s about triumphant wins and tragic losses, but it’s also NOT about triumphant wins and tragic losses. It’s about the people, the activity…
It’s really weird being a senior because I actually feel myself getting better at debate every single round. I can explain concepts in more detail, I understand strategies, and I have an urge to discuss debate in general. It used to not be like that. Back in freshman year, I used to have to force myself to listen or make blocks or highlight cards. What changed?
I angled my life more directly towards the debate community; I let it pervade every aspect of my life: school, decision-making, and extracurricular. It has become my home!
So in conclusion, yes. Meander where you’d like in life, because physical location is not the most important, as long as you never forget where you come from. Whether the impact of your “home” on the rest of your life has been positive or negative, know that your reaction to certain events has shaped who you are and made you a net-better person because of it. If all else fails, remember that there is a metaphysical “place” you can call home…for me, that’s policy debate.
Look, I’ve got to buckle down and accept the truth: THIS IS MY LAST YEAR AT DEBATE CAMP.
No more morning lectures, no more afternoon research sessions, and no more waking up at 5AM to go to what might be the biggest sale of the year.
As a senior, it’s a madly saddening thought to accept; the weeks sort of just pass one by one. On the first Monday, your lab leaders say something like:
We’re going to prepare you so well over the course of seven weeks!
Today, they might say something like:
Don’t worry, we’ve still got six weeks left to solidify that skill!
I approached this inevitability like a countdown and all I felt was doom and nostalgia.
When people ask about my summer plans, I am ready to see the mixed emotions on their face when I say I’m going to debate camp for seven weeks. First comes judgment, then comes pity, then comes fascination when I describe to them that I spend 8+ hours every day in a classroom by my own will. To the average outsider, that’s probably what this seems like, but I come back to my dorm positively enlightened by the genius of my lab leaders; they have made me change the way I approach the activity and have expanded my perspective on the game of debate.
So, as a rising senior, when you’re forced to consider the future, where your debating in college is not necessarily guaranteed, it’s a bittersweet train of thought. On one hand, you’ve had such a wonderful and experienced debate career, but on the other, you’re watching it slowly make its final cycle around your senior year. This is the last camp experience of your life.
College kids don’t really go to camp. Even if they did, they wouldn’t be under the supervision of RA’s and lab leaders. While the transition to college might be something to look forward to (much more freedom), there’s something particularly attractive about being a high schooler in this sort of situation. There are certain obvious perks to still being a kid, even if you are right at the peak.
Combining the freedom of summer and the mental state of mind of a high school student provides you with a unique opportunity to balance immaturity with maturity; add in the role of a debater, and you’re left with a senior summer experience that no other kids in the country will get.
This summer is…the beginning of the end, but it could just as well be the beginning of what is merely a transition to a better portion of my life. I am not only potentially ending my debate career, but also just my high school career. It’s a bittersweet good-bye to a lifestyle that I shall soon retire to the back of my mind, only to be relived through stories and photo albums.
How do I even begin to describe her? My roommate at debate camp for two years, who first introduced me to a substantial amount of music that I listen to today. I’m so glad to have met you, because my life would be half as fun if you weren’t in it.
So, I know this kid. He went to debate camp with me. I thought he was pretty weird at first, to be honest. I’d never talked to him before and he hung out with different people than I did, but MAN THIS KID IS A STRAIGHT UP BALLER (don’t judge me for saying that). Top of my lab, cutting cards all day. I stalked his Spotify and subscribed to his “cut all the cards” playlist. I starred two of his songs and decided that the rest were just too hardcore for me. His music taste blew me away; I suppose he’s just much too cool for me.