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.
Chatter. Lots of it pervades the muggy air of Ann Arbor as swarms of people wander the streets of the Art Fair.
At 6AM on a Wednesday morning, I walk past tent stations where vendors are preparing themselves mentally and physically for what is probably one of the most popular events of the summer.
My fatigued eyes graze over dozens of white tents but ultimately fix on the white tent that stands out from the others – the holy Urban Outfitters Sale.
ZOOM. My feet carry me over to racks and racks of discounted clothes. I see dresses of every length; my fingers brush past fabrics of every degree of softness and thickness, and rows of jeans in every cut and color. As I focus on the issue at hand – maximizing the amount of fabric I can manage with as little money spent – the cutting chatter fades in the background, a dull buzz now.
As I peruse the racks, I make my way past girls similar to myself: we’ve woken up at an unreasonable hour to justify a long-running tradition. Some have skipped makeup, some have just come in their sleep-clothes.
We come from all areas of campus life; some of us are campers at the debate camp, the math-and-summer camp, some of us are tourists visiting the Michigan campus, and some are actual college students studying here over the summer. Despite our different backgrounds, we all suffer together. Everyone endures the unbearingly long lines to the fitting rooms and then in the payment line; everyone quakes in excitement at the racks of clothes that are replenished every hour or so.
The way I see it, this Art Fair will be the center of attention for however long it is here. People will inevitably end up with the same clothes, and people will gratefully spend money that they have been scouring for weeks. New camp kids will learn the tricks of the trade – wake up early, go during breaks, and browse after lab. The golden oldies will rely on the tactics that have been used for years.
Thus concludes my narrative of the first morning of the Urban Outfitters Sale of the 2013 Ann Arbor Art Fair.
Oh, the things we do for high style.
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.
Summer is the absolute best season. I know it, you know it, heck, even your teachers know it! But why? Can it be explained chemically? When the thermometer hits 80 degrees, do our bodies go into happy mode? Maybe.
Check out the belated version of this post, 5 Reasons to Love Summer!
1. El Sol
Yes, the sun is a great start. As a symbol of light, it makes us feel as though we no longer face the pressures that we feel during the school year. The days grow longer and the nights get shorter. We have a (slight) tendency to wake up earlier, but we also are tempted to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. And that’s where our self control kicks in.
I think that everyone likes when it’s sunny out. It’s just a fact of life. Especially for young people. Continue reading