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“I’m so ready to be home.”
My childhood home in Terrell, Texas.
A year ago, I could have told you exactly what that meant. But when I moved to Arcadia, a lot more changed than my address. In my first months here, I have learned to be more independent, form my own opinions, manage my time by my own accord, as well as a lot about balance sheets and amortization. While all of these growths are positive, change is still change, something I have had to quickly learn to adjust to.
I am from the small town of Terrell, Texas. When my mom and I got in the car on August 21, we drove 1,278 miles to my new address: 450 South Easton Road, Glenside, Pennsylvania. I had never experienced something like this: feeling the slow rise in my throat as my red and white saddle shoes tapped the gas, having to tear my eyes away from the happy yellow house shrinking in my rearview mirror. For the first time, that life was behind me. While that was terrifying, it was inevitable, it was time, and above all else, it was what I wanted.
My first weeks at school were just what I had hoped for: taking classes that were challenging and interesting, forming new relationships, having the independence to make decisions for myself. Though I enjoyed Arcadia immediately, I was in no way immune to an adjusting period. I’m sure everyone's experience is a little (or maybe a lot) different, but all I know is that mine didn't feel anything like I expected. My first few weeks felt a lot like hanging on. Things seemed to be going well. I was making friends and learning so much, but then out of nowhere, I would just get so sad; I would, without warning, feel so far away from everything. If I missed my mom or best friend or dog, all I could think about were those 1,278 miles.
Why was this so hard? I wanted to get away from Texas so badly. I had long accepted that I didn’t have any emergency contacts in the vicinity or that I couldn't go home on the weekends for a home-cooked meal. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was that I uprooted my life overnight and that means so much more than what you can put onto paper. Suddenly, no one in the entire state knew what I looked like in middle school or what I wore to prom. No one knew my stories or inside jokes. In my mind, I now had two completely unconnected worlds: Arcadia and Texas. The closer I grew to one, the further I drifted from the other.
My friends from Arcadia meeting my best friend, Lilia.
Things started to change when my best friend came to visit me. Just having her here seemed to slowly piece everything together. All of my wonderful new friends were able to spend time with someone extremely import to me, and suddenly, things didn’t feel so far apart anymore. I was afraid that when Lilia returned to Texas, she would take my newfound comfort with her, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Instead, things felt even more settled than they did when she was with me. Without my even noticing, Arcadia had become the place I looked forward to exploring everyday; I had made it my home.
Since Texas is so far away, I didn’t return for the first time until Thanksgiving. As excited as I was to see my family and shower without shoes on, I couldn't help but feel nervous. Would it be as different as everyone says? Would I feel out of place in the town where I spent the first 18 years of my life? As the trip got closer, I remember texting my mom and saying, “I’m so ready to be…” What do I say? Home? Home is here, in Pennsylvania with my new friends and a closet with no door. My feelings were only reaffirmed when I locked my dorm and headed toward the train station, feeling the same lump in my throat that I experienced three months prior.
To my relief, as soon as I got off the plane, I had my answer. My home in Texas was just as it had been. For me, the rumors weren’t true. I wasn't out of place or self-conscious that I didn’t belong. But when it came time to return to Glenside, the tiniest pang of homesickness welled up once again. And while it isn’t my favorite emotion, this time I welcomed the now-familiar feeling. Leaving home, new or old, will always be hard.
But the one big benefit? My home stretches 1,278 miles to wherever I happen to be.