Senior year of college is the strangest place that I’ve ever been in my life. I’m an adult, but I still call my mom at least three times a day. I’m old enough to drink legally now and choose not to more than I do (it loses it’s thrill lets be honest.) I still go to parties but I’m getting married in a year. I want to go home so bad my heart hurts, but the thought of leaving this place, my new home makes my soul ache. I’m at this crossroad in my life where everything’s changing, but nothing is changing yet. I feel like everything about being homesick as a senior is contradictory. I can’t wait to graduate, but I can. I’m ready for the next chapter, but didn’t this one just start? I want to go home, but I never want to leave.
When I was a freshman here, I was so sure that I made the wrong choice. I was alone, my parents were 2 1/2 hours away, and my boyfriend and best friend were at least three away. I was up to my knees in snow and it was so cold my eyelashes froze. Don’t get me wrong, I had the best friends. Me, Hannah, Gabe and Rice were inseparable. I’ll forever be grateful for them that year. Still I looked into transferring to ECU, as well as NC State. But something deeper than me told me to “Just stay. Just stick it out. The weather’s not that bad.” So I did. Three years later, here I sit. In my house with my maid of honor, graduating in May, getting married next November. I honestly never want to leave.
But I do.
I crave my hometown like people crave chocolate. My whole life is there. My dogs, my Mom, my Dad, my Fiancé James, my family, my friends, my childhood.
I crave it on bad days. When all I want to do is go home and let my Mom cook me dinner while I lay in my yard surrounded by any of my six dogs. (Yeah, you read that right. I have six dogs. No it’s not too many. It’s perfect.) I crave James. His touch, his smell, his laugh. The hardest part of college hasn’t been class or drama or anything like that. It’s been missing him. I crave it on good days, too, though. More the people than the things, but still. Sometimes you just want to go home. That doesn’t go away the longer you’re at college when your home is like mine. It’s funny, it’s loud, it’s close, it’s full of dog hair and puppy kisses. That’s all I really ever wanted anyway. It’s all there.
But it’s all here too. My best friend is here. My bridesmaids are here (some of them). The most loyal people I have ever met are here. Some of the proudest moments of my life have happened right here in Boone. Here I am somebody. I’m the president of Her Campus, the president of Ducks Unlimited. I know the secret back roads and restaurants. I know the secrets to parking downtown on the weekends and what places give student discounts. I’m smart. I’ve shared part of my soul in classes (shout out to Chris Patti) that I never would’ve shared at home. I came to terms with who I am. I’m stronger now. It’s like I am someone here all on my own. I’m not just someone’s daughter, or just a receptionist, or just a face at the gym. I’m not James Herbin’s fiance. I love being every one of those things. But here I am me. That’s it. I see people I know everyday and I don’t try to avoid it like I do at home. I am at home at a place that I have lived less than I’ve been with James. This place has given me so much; it has shaped me into the strong and confident woman that I am today. I don’t try and make myself small so people are comfortable anymore. Being here has changed me and molded me as much as my hometown did. I don’t keep my mouth shut when something’s wrong. I just am the purest version of myself that I can explain….until I think about what it’s like to be on the farm with James or spending the day on the softball field with my Dad.
Being homesick doesn’t go away. It just changes. Just like we do. It’s like my girl Miley Cyrus says, “No one stays the same. You know what goes up must come down. Change is the only thing you can count on.” So I guess my time here has to end. Just like my time there did. I find myself getting sentimental over everything that’s App related. I remember sitting in my dorm laughing until I cried with my friends. The time Gabe, James, and I had a snowball fight on the football field and I just laid there and took in the moment. I get nostalgic when I see freshman getting lost in Anne Belk. People talk about the Noodle bar at the trailer bars and I automatically think about the time Hannah and me walked from Gardner to Parthenon in heels, in the snow. I think about the times Andy and I just sat and talked for hours. It’s been the greatest and the hardest four years of my life.
So I guess for now I’ll continue to live at a crossroad between wanting to go home and never leaving. But I think that after all of this time, I understand that I wouldn’t be me without struggling between staying and going. My advice to anyone who feels this way is you can always go home. Always.