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.

Graduation 041

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.

4 responses to “Home (part 3)”

  1. Shari Avatar

    It sounds like you had such a wonderful time there! I commuted to college, so it was a completely different experience in ways, but reading your words took me right back to that time of my life. I always love that about your writing, the way it pulls me into my memories, too! :)

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Aw, I’m glad to hear that, thank you. Sometimes I worry that I talk about myself too much — on my own website, that’s probably not a big deal, lol, but I do it in person too. Not because I’m an egomaniac, but because I (try to) use personal anecdotes and experiences to build a bridge between myself and others. That’s the main point of stories, IMO, and one of my favorite things about them. But when the stories are mainly about me, I know it can come off wrong sometimes, so I’m glad that my words have the intended effect on at least one friend. ;)

  2. linda Avatar

    I never felt like my dorm was home – was in a squished triple and didn’t develop close relationships with roommates or dormmates. So I kind of feel like I didn’t really get the awesome college dorm life a lot of people had haha. I enjoyed my living space a lot more when I moved into an apartment with friends. I think the best part about moving away to college for me was freedom from my parents’ restrictions! :P

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Aw, I’m sorry your dorm experience wasn’t a ton of fun. But at least you got it with the apartment later. Honestly that was probably equivalent. Dorm life was just the only time I had roommates.