In the pre-college days, coming home, working on homework, and eating dinner encompassed wrapping up the day. No matter how busy you were, whether you played sports, extra-curricular activities, had a job, or did volunteer work, coming back home was normally how it ended. But being a college student, living away from home can be odd. There are four (plus or minus) years of not knowing who you are, what you want to do, where you want to go, and at the end of the day, what used to be your ‘normal’- isn’t. We are stuck in this time where, while we might not think about it, we don’t really know what to call ‘home’.
We live on campus, or maybe in an apartment with friends, most of the year while we are in school, but we can’t add all the personal touches we would like, it’s not really home, or at least it doesn’t feel this way. Without thinking, we might believe that where we grew up or where our parents live might be home, but rather it is just an idea of home. Granted we are still welcome back for breaks or a weekend away, the parents still wait up and greet you at the door, and can’t wait to spend every moment of my time back together (or at least mine do), but admits all the fond memories and warmth in the walls, leaves an empty feeling: because our bedroom isn’t what it used to be, and you are living out of a suitcase: almost feeling like a guest in your own home.
And it sucks.
My freshman year of college, I had a roommate whose parents were missionaries in Kenya, and in one of our heart-to-hearts, she said “It sucks not knowing what to call home” as we stared at the bags still left unpacked. I never understood what she meant, although I nodded as if I did. Fast forward to October 2016, when she said the exact same statement; this time I could relate.
I currently live with my sister and brother-in-law, and after the bridal showers and wedding, they came back with so many personalized things which now decorate the apartment. “Bachman” here, a wedding picture there, and then his parents pop in for a quick visit. It’s no longer my space. And I’m not using this to rag on our living situation, it’s just that what I call ‘home’ is the 8×8 foot bedroom I confide to each night. I’ll always call Salem, Connecticut home. That’s where my family is, it’s where neighbors stop in unannounced because they saw my car in the driveway, and where when I go into a grocery store to pick up one thing, I’m there for an hour because I see so many familiar faces. But I’m only ever there for a week, and to me it hurts to have to acknowledge the fact that it’s not my home anymore. My heart will always be in Connecticut, but it sucks not having a home right yet.
The only thing getting us students through this, is knowing that we are not alone in feeling this way, and the hope that our persistent stride will get us there eventually. We all want a place where we can take a long, hot shower without someone banging on the door that they need to pee, where your bedroom is the perfect color, and where we (ladies) can be braless… at least that’s what I want.