No Place Like Home

img_1436You know that saying, “Home is where the heart is”? Well, I find that to be particularly true.

I went home this week for Thanksgiving break, but that’s not all. For the first time, I visited my best friend. Not in the usual way that most college students would. No. I went to a cemetery, looked down at the newly placed stone and hoped that she could hear all the words that filled my head. Words about my college experience and simply put everything that  I haven’t told her already. Words that I had waited to tell her and words that I wish I knew how to say. While I stood there, I wondered all of the same questions that I had a million times before but no answers came to surface.

Then, I remembered the day. I visualized me walking up to the door to realize she had already come in. I saw her small little dance that she did. Then we walked to the living room and I turned on Glee, the show we had been watching together. We talked forever, not even really paying any attention to the show in the background. We had seen it a million times already. We joked and laughed all day. Not only do I remember what we did that day, I also remember how I was feeling. It was overwhelming happiness. For lack of a better way to put it, I was home. I was with my best friend whom I loved and who made me happy. My heart was whole. I had no worries. I was not stressed. I was carefree. I was happy. I was home. As the day went on, I remember feeling a bit of dread because I knew she would have to go back to her house soon and I simply put didn’t want her to go. After she left, it would just go back to being a random, boring day.

Standing at her grave, all of those feelings rushed back to me. The readiness to see her. Not necessarily happy, but whole. It was the first time since the accident that I had felt still. Not still in the frozen kind of way, but steady. As I stood there, my whole existence was unraveling before me. I wasn’t torn in two. I was just there looking at the stone that sat above where my best friend lies permanently. For the first time, I wasn’t unsteady. My mind wasn’t racing with a million thoughts. My heart ached no longer because I was there. I was with her even though she wasn’t physically there. I was there and this was where her body lied and for me that was enough. It wasn’t like last time when I watched her lowered to the ground. My heart aching. No more tears left to be shed. It wasn’t like that. I was just visiting a friend. I was visiting my best friend. My best friend took up most of my heart. I loved her and I lost her. As I remembered her laughter and jokes standing there, I realized that I had lost my home. My safe place. But in a way it was all around me as I stood there. My mom standing beside me still supporting me through everything, just as my best friend would have.

Then I realized something else. Just like the saying previously mentioned, no matter where I am–big city or small town that no one has ever heard of–I will always have a piece of me that is home. Because that’s where she is. And that is also where my family will remain. And they are my safe places. They are what take up the space in my heart and that’s how it always will be.

Senior to Freshman: Starting All Over Again

For a while now, I have been saving this post. You see, among most of the freshmen in my class I had a skewed version of college from the start. My best friend had died two weeks before I had to move in and that had already put me in a weird position to start over. So instead of this post being one of my first posts, I decided that it would have to be a later post due to my skewed reality of my first weeks here at college.

If you must know when I first got here, I thought this sucks. I don’t want to be here. But I also didn’t want to be anywhere in particular. On move-in day, I looked into the eyes of people who equally shared the same characteristics–hope, opportunity, happiness. I couldn’t help, but wonder what my eyes held. I watched this one guy run out of the second floor door of the dorm, almost knocking me down in the process, with eyes of joy. His smile told the story though. This was his time. He was ready for this moment and probably has been for a while. Nevertheless, with each box and bag I carried up to the fourth floor I saw faces of happiness and I wondered what I would be like if Stancil had not died. Would I have been extremely happy? Or, would I be exactly the same? Probably the first. I also wondered how everyone else could be so happy even though I knew they most likely weren’t affected by a death two weeks beforehand. This is my new start, I thought, shouldn’t I be happy? Shouldn’t I feel anything towards this moment? I was the outlier.

As time went on, it seemed to only get worse. I wasn’t participating in things normal college students would be. I would just go to classes and go back to the dorm. I would do homework, which is good. I would watch Netflix until I could finally fall asleep. That was essentially my life. And I essentially hated everything about college. At least in high school, I would have been able to talk to the teachers and even occasionally some of the students. Here, there was no one. At least, not yet.

Now, about three months later, I can say something different. I got involved in clubs and met some people. I stopped hanging out all the time in my dorm and started getting involved in something during the week. I can even say that I have got a couple of people here that I can hang out with and talk to. Now I have a different view on college in itself. Yes, it is very stressful at times with the classes. But, college isn’t just about coursework. I mean that is a big factor, but it’s also about forming relationships and being a part of something.

That is essentially the reason that I believe college is much better than high school. I enjoy the encouragement of clubs on campus and they are always doing things on campus. Every night is basically a different thing. We are encouraged to create relationships with people on campus. That’s really cool because in high school there isn’t much of that. There are clubs you can join and people you can befriend, but academics is the main focus. In college, there is sort of a medium between academics and club involvement. They encourage both heavily here.

More changes that I have noticed is that, you don’t really talk to the people you once did. Like once high school is over, those relationships are basically over. The only one that really stuck with me was Stancil, but that ended in a different way. This can be different for some people; however, I have talked to some people who still talk to their high school friends.

So here is my open, honest truth about my transition from high school to college. It won’t be skewed from past endeavors, taken with an open mind from just a regular college student. College is pretty great. It’s stressful at times, but not all the time. I have met some great people from varying states and even some from out of the country. So go out. Participate in things. Enjoy. Because this just may be the some of the best times in your life.

Holding Up The Weight of the World

Remember the last time you felt carefree? Unburdened by your surrounding things. I do. I was reminded of it today actually.

It was a day in the fall at my grandmother’s house. I was helping her rake the leaves in her yard and I had this brilliant idea to make one huge pile. It was just me and my brother and sister with her. My end goal was to jump in the leaves; even though, that would mean us having to rake them back up after all that hard work, but I was perfectly okay with that. I told my grandma and she helped us start the pile. Eventually we had this huge pile and we stopped raking for the time being. My grandma had run into the house to get her camera because there was no way that she would miss this photogenic moment. She never missed a picture, even the ones you didn’t really care for her to take. But in that moment, I ran into the leaves jumping around and throwing them around. My siblings joined me in the fun. You are probably wondering why I took you down memory lane. Well my point for saying all of this is that this is the last time I remember feeling unburdened by the world. I was a child, probably around 6 or 7.

One day I looked into the mirror and questioned everything I had ever known and that was the day that I first felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I grew up extremely fast. While everyone was still unburdened and happy, I had the pressure weighing down on me. I constantly asked myself when the next tragedy would strike, because my life was full of them. I had already grown up to the notion that life was not all rainbows and unicorns. It was a tragic, endless pit of pain. Sometimes, it was even confusing.

What makes us grow away from the mindset that we have as children though? How does it change so quickly? And why does it have to?

For me, it was my experiences as a child. My childhood was great. However, unlike any other children my age, I was extremely observant and not just in the “I’m going to do what they are doing because it looks right” type of way. I was invested in an adult’s emotions more than actions. When I say my experiences, I mean watching my father struggle to accept my great-grandmother’s death–the person who had raised him. I also mean watching my aunt murmur empty, emotionless words to my great-grandmother’s lifeless body before they closed the casket. Even the constant worry in my mother’s eyes that I caught as she took care of us among other things. Then a few years later, I learned the hard way with my parent’s divorce in which I felt like I needed to protect my siblings from and pushed my emotions aside to listen to theirs.

This, among many other issues after that, changed my stance on the world. As we grow older, more is thrown at us. We are burdened by school/work, constantly forming new friendships and saying goodbye to old ones, and endless possibilities–both of which can be good or bad. There is never a break in between to catch our breaths. We just keep going because that’s what we have learned to do. As children, in general, it’s easier to become blinded by the bad in the world. We have the notion in our heads that the world is what we make it, but it’s not. And growing up we see that clearer and clearer. Then we feel burdened by this weight of what we need to do and what happens in our life.

When I became so burdened by everything in the world, I felt like I had to just deal with it. And you kind of do have to deal with whatever is thrown at you. But I became so consumed in it that I only saw the bad in the world. I felt trapped in all of this weight around me. However, sometimes you just have to put those blinders on, that a child has, to see the good and the carefree and the unburdened. Because that’s all we have sometimes. We have to forget about the burdens. We have to release the weight upon our shoulders, because if not we will be people just going through the motions. People with a routine. People who breathe, but forget to live.

So when I had the opportunity once again to feel less burdened by the world, I hesitated. However, when I saw that the people I was with were going to jump in the pile of leaves, I put my keys down on the ground and walked over to them. I wasn’t going to mess this up by the feeling of being burdened. So we ran, getting a head start, then jumped because what else was could we do?

Understanding What Has Come To Be

Yesterday, I was listening to this song. Shoreline by Deas Vail. It wasn’t the first time that I listened to the song. In fact, I had listened to it multiple times before then. But yesterday, yesterday was the first time I actually heard the music. After that I couldn’t stop listening to the song. I grew so fond of the song that I even researched the band a little and interpreted a meaning from the words that were being spoken.

It turns out the whole song is a lament. A mourning of something that is impossible to have. An essential expression of grief at its finest. Well, not finest, because nothing about grief is fine. It’s normal. I guess that’s the word I’m looking for. But even with the knowledge of knowing it’s normal, doesn’t help. However, besides the point, while it has the lament it also holds another aspect. A simple understanding. Closer to the ending of the song, the singer sings the words “I’ve figured you out” around three times. This is an understanding of a bigger purpose. Something that should be fulfilled. Something that should be done by the person themselves.

With that being said, I entered college smothered with grief. I had just lost my only friend–my best friend. Then I had to dive into the world of college in just under two weeks after. I was put in this new world with new people, seven hours away from my home. I had to figure out how to be happy. How to meet new people and become someone without her. College was supposed to be this big, new adventure. A fresh start, in my case, being so far away from where I actually grew up. However, when I came here, I questioned it all. Of course, people didn’t know because I didn’t want to tell them or they never asked. I wandered around with thoughts of my best friend in my head, with memories and regrets. Words I never got to say clouded my brain. I simply did not understand. I didn’t understand why she had to leave this earth. I just wanted more than anything to be with her. In the midst of all of this, I watched the people around me socialize and make friends. I also didn’t understand how socialization was so easy for them. I mean I was never good at that to begin with. Anyways, with all of that going on, I felt alone. I even asked myself if this was where I needed to be, even though I knew it was before she was gone. I just wanted to go home, because at least there someone would understand.

However, after listening to this song, I realize this is just where I need to be. Not just because I listened to this song; but, because there is something pulling me to stay here. It doesn’t get easier. Well, not at the moment, because I still have many days where all I can do is think of her. However, I know where I need to be and that is here. For what purpose? I’m not sure yet. I realize that at this point in my life I don’t need to understand everything, but I do need to have a sense of understanding. I need to believe that I’m here for some reason and that later I will understand exactly why. That’s enough for me at this moment in my life.