To the home I left behind,
Growing up I always hated the town (or city I guess) I lived in. My hometown is small, for me at least. I grew up in a town where you can’t run errands without seeing someone you know, unfortunately for me when I want to leave my house in my sweats, a town with nothing to do and no where to go. In high school my friends and I frequently hung out in parking lots, we would eat at one of the many restaurants or partake in some kind “small town” activity like mudding or ghost riding the whip (because what else is there to do at 11pm when everything is closed). At home, people you don’t even know will wave to you, I know where I’m going and (usually) don’t get lost for extended periods of time, errands are much more convenient, the cost of living is ridiculously low, 5 O’clock Veterans parkway traffic doesn’t even compare to 5 O’clock Chicago traffic.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “Oh, you’re going to miss it when you leave.” “You’ll move back, end up spending your life here. It’s a really good place to raise kids” and rolled my eyes at it, I could pay my tuition (sorry office of financial aid). I had big city dreams in my small town and I was determined to get out. I was leaving for Chicago to experience some place bigger than Bloomington. I would have never thought I would feel like I do now.
College has given me a new home. Here I have my friends, my go to people, a place to rest my head at night, a job, new hobbies, knowledge of the area (even if it took getting lost and finding my way home to learn), favorite restaurants, hide out places I like to go, a new perspective, and so much more. When people say college changes you, they’re right, and in more ways than you can imagine. I learned a lot about myself; I am forever grateful for that chance to experience big city living as well as a chance to learn more about myself than I have in the last 6 years of my life. I may have gotten lost going less than a mile, paid $60 for a bike ride, run after a bus that just passed me, made some stupid decisions, got a parking ticket…twice, “lost” more clothes than I can recall, broke important things, missed people and places more than I thought imaginable, but all of this has taught me so much more. I learned what I really want, how to be a better person, and gained so much experience.
When I moved to Chicago I used to complain about my small town, and sure I exaggerated it, “I live in the middle of nowhere,” “There’s not really a lot to do,” (see I already exaggerated about that writing this) and stuff like that but leaving home will make you appreciate it that much more. I was never thankful for cheap rent, free parking, empty sidewalks, a cabinet full of groceries I did not purchase, free laundry, familiar faces, safety, network connects, or knowledge about directions. Now if you talk about my hometown and make fun of it, I will defend my home instead of joining you. I spent 16+ years of my life in Bloomington and it will always be my home. I have so many memories and connections back home that maybe it just took moving away to appreciate it more. Bloomington is full of people I grew up with, people who love me, full of traditions and baselines. I may not end up living back home forever, but I’m not as stubborn as I was (well about where I live).
Bloomington created who I am as a person and Chicago made me thankful for that. Now I have two “homes” and I love both of them, but there’s no place like home.