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As a college student who only gets to go home maybe a weekend out of every month, staying at my childhood home is always a draining and enlightening experience. My room, painted baby blue with Kelly green décor and covered in trophies, ribbons, a mum and pictures from my cringeworthy middle and high school moments feels strange to call home.

Everyone told me before I left so I don’t know why I’m surprised, but I knew college would give me the fresh start angsty teens so anxiously await. But what I didn’t expect was to feel like a guest in my own home.

I walk into my room that my mom has cleaned since I’d been home last. A mum is on my wall from the ex-boyfriend I’ve long forgotten and taped up photo booth strips of friends I haven’t spoken to outside of Instagram likes in over six months cover my mirror. I eat my favorite meals my mom planned for the weekend but it doesn’t feel the same.

Hearing the same boards creak under my feet as I did when I was six feels like I’m walking through a physical scrapbook I created subconsciously as I ran through my youth. So many trinkets that once defined the fabric of who I am as a person, I’m connected to them now only when I look through the lens of my past self. I’m hyper-aware of how I’ve changed since my childhood physically, emotionally, spiritually, through the evolution of my dreams and aspirations. Looking at the little redheaded girl on my fridge sitting next to her brother doesn’t feel like I’m looking at a picture of myself.

There’s a level of guilt associated with coming home now, not to say I’m moving on though, those words are too harsh. But there’s no gust of comfort that washes over me upon entering such a familiar place. I text my mom every day and my dad and I talk on the phone at least once a week. So, why then do I feel so weird and drained when I come home?

Because now I’m walking through a museum of the first few chapters of my life while I’m trying to figure out who I am as an adult is just a reminder that we are always evolving. One day I’ll look at pictures from when I was a sophomore in college and feel the same way, like I’m holding a picture of someone else when they were twenty. I can only relate to who I am right now.

Home will always be home, and what I come from is fundamental to me. But I’m at a turning point in my life where I’m acquiring the tools to build my own home. So, it’s natural that it would be haunting to walk through a reminder of my past life; a me I’m trying to refine.

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