I stepped off the train and took a deep breath. I grasped my bag a little tighter as I walked along the train platform. As I moved closer to the end of the walkway, I saw a sign with my town’s name on it in the distance. I had been in college for roughly a month and now, I was home. I didn’t know exactly what I expected to feel yet, but as I drove along familiar roads, the silhouettes of suburban houses brought a flood of memories.
I turned into my neighborhood and felt submerged in a wave of nostalgia. The sun was melting beyond the horizon, and as the light dimmed, things seemed to blur together. I felt like I was seeing everything with new eyes, but at the same time, as though I had never left. It was an odd sensation; one that is indescribable until you experience it yourself. It was my first time home since I left for my freshman year of college and, although it had only been one month, I felt like I had changed.
Photo Credit: Julian Hochgesang
This resonated with me as I sat in my kitchen, eating food not from a dining hall, in a house that felt emptier than I remembered it to be. Although I had only been gone for a short time, coming home was still an emotional experience. After talking with friends, I realized that most people feel the same way. It may or may not seem serious, but starting your freshman year of college is a big deal. Leaving triggers major changes in every aspect of life.
Not only are you living on your own and leaving behind your home of eighteen years or so, but you are also entering a completely new environment, saying goodbye to old friends, and for the first time, really growing up. Obviously being a freshman in college isn’t the peak of your adulthood, but you are starting to really find yourself, determining the person you want to become. Returning home was conflicting because I no longer was the same girl who had left for college only a month prior.
After only a month, I felt like college had taught me so much, and not just in terms of academics. For the first time, I learned how to grow from my errors instead of letting them define me. You may be wondering what wisdom I could have possibly gained in such a short amount of time but, to my surprise, I obtained a lot. Although nothing I learned came from doing things perfectly, the way I see it is if you never make mistakes, you’ll never grow.
Photo Credit: Pavan Trikutam
Coming home was wonderful, and I had missed it more than I’d realized. Away at school, I’d sometimes think of it; the smells, the sights, the sensations. Being home made me feel safe and content. Yet, as my stay came to a close, I realized that I was excited to return to the home I was beginning to develop at college.
Things are never perfect – college isn’t perfect, home isn’t perfect, people aren’t perfect. However, being at school and then coming home made me realize that it isn’t about being perfect… it’s about learning, growing, and becoming better every single day. We all make mistakes, regret things, run away from the truth. But there’s beauty in acknowledging that even if we can’t change the past, we can always change the future, as long as we are forgiving to ourselves and those we love.
So, as I boarded the train back to Boston, I was filled with gratitude for both my home and my home-away-from-home. Both places are teeming with memories, stories, and people I care about. With every memory forgotten a new one is created, wherever life may take us. It’s always only the beginning.