Kristan Hoffman

writing dreams into reality

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Category: Personal (Page 1 of 41)

Home (part 3)

It’s a strange mix of exhilaration and mourning as you drive away from the house you grew up in. A new chapter of your life is beginning. Your most essential belongings are packed into suitcases and boxes, and squished into the back of the car. You lean your head against the window and watch the miles blur by.

It’s the point where two rivers meet. The intersection of pierogies, Warhol, and the Steelers. You’re lucky to have relatives in the area, and they gather together to welcome you. But after they leave, you’ll be living alone with strangers. The warmth of your family’s love is a guiding light into the unknown.

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It’s a brand new dorm. Clean and lively. 52 other students on your floor, roughly 250 in the building. You keep to yourself at first, but you leave your door open as a sign. Over time, you make friends and develop crushes. You join late-night cram sessions in the lounge. You listen to your roommate’s laptop moo at all hours of the day.

It’s the smell of fresh snowfall, and gusts of wind that bully you across campus. Flashing lights and loud music at frat parties. Buses that always run late and then arrive in clusters. The clunky old piano in the practice room. The closet crammed full of costumes for dance club.

It’s sneaking into places you aren’t supposed to go, like the roof of New House, or the basement of Doherty, or that hidden part of Hammerschlag Hall.

It’s the humility of attending tutoring sessions for the first time in your life, and then the first-pump of pride after you ace your final exam.

It’s the horrifying realization that your double major is making you miserable, and then the relief of walking away.

It’s the heartbreak of not being chosen as a Resident Assistant, and then the courage to apply again.

It’s the slow-burn discovery of a person whose soul is so strong and so bright that being with him feels like riding a shooting star.

It’s the best four years of your life, so far.

And it’s going to set you up for even better years to come.

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Home (part 2)

It’s only a few minutes away from where you used to live, but this new neighborhood feels like a different planet. Free-standing houses bordered by driveways and fences. Sprinklers spitting water over grassy lawns. Golden Retrievers prancing with leashes in their mouths.

It’s a tranquil street connected to a busy road. Transco Tower winks in the distance. An occasional siren interrupts the night. Just around the corner, well-lit stores and restaurants buzz with traffic. The press of the city is comforting, in a way.

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It’s dark wood paneling and big bubble skylights. The double-sided fireplace and a bookshelf that swings open on a hidden hinge. The plastic Christmas tree that never gets taken down, only put out of sight. A cardboard cutout of Captain Picard that you begged Blockbuster to give you.

It’s the packet of seeds you plant haphazardly in the backyard. (They never even sprout.)

It’s the jar of bitter sauce your mom brushes onto your hands to stop you from sucking your thumb. (You hide the jar and then claim the housekeeper must have misplaced it.)

It’s the tap on your window at five in the morning, the chili cheese fries slipped through the mail slot, and those furtive hours spent discovering both your body and his. (You love him, but you know it won’t last.)

It’s climbing the roof and writing song lyrics until the stars come out. Raking the leaves with your dad on a Sunday afternoon. Eating candied yams and Japanese cucumber at Thanksgiving. Dancing in the bathroom and learning how to drive. Pimples and cover-up and worrying about your weight. Birthday parties and Homecoming mums. Calculus and Nora Roberts.

It’s over twenty years of memories and secrets, conversations and tears. Impossible to capture.

It’s a place you take for granted, to be honest.

It’s stability and comfort, even in its decline.

It’s not going to be there forever, though. Appreciate it while you can.

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“Watching a time happen and thinking, I will remember this.”


Photo by Susan Plocher. Words by Hannah Nicole (via Meg Fee).

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Home (part 1)

It’s where they brought you after the hospital. Your very first bed. Your very first everything.

It’s your betta fish named Rainbow swimming in her bowl on the kitchen counter. Your rabbit named Thumper running circles around the legs of the dining table. The piano in the corner of the living room, where you practiced “Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow.” The bookshelf that nearly fell on you.


It’s is the Old Farmer’s Almanac in your dad’s study, with its wispy gold-edged pages. Your bedroom window looking out over a giant tree and the neighborhood basketball court. The teeny tiny snow man you made on top of the hedges when you were four. The vanity counter you used to sit on while your mom dried and brushed your hair after a bath.

It’s chicken pox and sleepovers and Easter Egg hunts. Sitting alone in the car in a darkened garage because you yelled “I hate you!” during a fight. The calendar in the hallway that everyone forgot to update. The soft blue sofa that you jumped and slept and watched TV on.

It’s the tears you cried when you learned that you were moving. Your certainty that nowhere else would ever be as perfect. The moving truck slowly filling up while you sat inside pouting. The staircase that you hugged goodbye.

It’s the playground you took your husband to the first time he came to visit your hometown. It’s the gazebo you still drive by sometimes.

It’s a collection of old memories, faded and dusty like photographs in a shoebox. But precious nevertheless.

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Sisterhood of summer

3 years old. Shallow waters, and big orange floaties encircling each arm. Our mothers sit pool-side while we splash and play. You’re a mermaid queen and I’m your daughter, your best friend, your handmaiden, your loyal subject. The sun burns bright above our dark-haired heads, and we squint as the sunscreen melts into our eyes.

12 years old. Dive-bombing into the deep end, and shrieking with laughter when the lifeguards whistle at us. Our mothers sit at home across the street, but they check in on us through the windows, as if their watchful gazes can save us from drowning. You’re Marco, and I’m Polo. We hunt for each other, eyes closed against the sting of chlorine.

29 years old. Seeking quiet and relaxation, but instead encountering neighbors I’ve never met before and don’t really care to know. The mothers complain loudly about kids who aren’t present. The red-faced men are drunk and showing off. You’re hundreds of miles away, probably sound asleep, while here I’m remembering the silky slither of aqua water around our young legs. My eyes gloss over, and the memories settle around me like the vast evening sky. 

Someday, I imagine, we will go swimming together again.

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