Like many students around the country, when my school moved classes online (again) for the fall I was feeling pretty defeated. The idea of staying at home for any longer than I already had was not sitting right at me. Knowing we would get some tuition money back, my closest group of friends and I decided to move to Charleston, South Carolina to be able to live and work together when we took classes.
It took us forever to decide on a location, find an affordable house, and figure out logistics. I’ve never lived with friends before, only one other person in a dorm room. It has definitely been an adjustment to learn what it’s like to cohabitate with people and learn their quirky habits and split the cost of groceries and ubers, but I’m learning that I feel the happiest when I’m with my friends. We don’t even need to be doing anything—or even when someone is feeling down or an argument occurs—I know now more than ever that my home is with them. They remind me of laughter, fresh starts, empathy, and all of the thousand other good things I see in them that I want for myself. Jayne reminds me of perseverance, Maddy of curiosity and honesty, and Brett of energy and smiles.
I’m learning that cooking also exists beyond oatmeal, avocado toast, and smoothies. Although I’m not much help in the kitchen, I feel like I will probably pick up a recipe or two while I’m surrounded by good company. My friends make amazing food, specifically delicious vegetables that I never would have eaten at home. I’m also obsessed with living near a beach again—how can anyone be mad when they can lie in the sand and flounce around in the water? I’m not totally sure. I feel most free at the beach, and most at peace with the world. It’s like you can forget every other bad thing and just focus on the way the sand feels between your toes, and the sound of the waves crashing.
At the end of the day, it brings up questions of home and what makes you feel safe. I love my hometown, and I love my family, but I’ve outgrown the versions of myself that have existed there. I love my room so much, but there are corners of it that I remember crying in during some of the worst times of my life, and I don't like to revel in those moments. I feel now more keenly than ever that I’m moving on from who I was and becoming someone new - maybe who I’m supposed to be or maybe another version of myself that I won’t want to even think about in a few years. It’s a weird feeling to know that you’ve changed, to feel it so definitively. I’m happy where I am, happy with the friends I have, and am so excited for whatever is coming next. I know the world is bleak, but small pockets of joy are all I feel will get me and everyone else through all the terrible things that happen every day.