I survived Homecoming.
Don't get me wrong, I was more excited about Homecoming than I likely will be for Christmas. I had a great time and am more grateful than ever for my friends, but still, it's hard.
Returning to Allegheny is like going home. Only, it's not my home anymore; it's somebody else's home and they've made it their own as much as I once made it mine. Though the attic of Brooks hall still bears my signature (along with some drunken proclamations), Someone else lives in my room, someone else has decorated the second mid lounge, and the fluffy couches that used to welcome me to GFC are long gone.
Beyond myself, there are weird green glass things on campus, "Cochran Hall" isn't called Cochran Hall anymore, and they now allow boys to live in Walker. The times they are a changin'.
Going back makes me homesick... but homesick for a place that doesn't exist. Even if I moved back to my room and decorated the lounge just as it was (Cathedral Purple, anyone?)... it still wouldn't be the same. Knitty doesn't live below me, I can't break into Pete's room, the path I wore over to Justin's room is long gone, Jay will not be on my couch when I wake up in the morning and Bekka won't be there for Sunday Brunch. I could read the duty log, but there wouldn't be any messages from Aubrey, Kendra, Melissa or anybody else in it.
What then, is home? What is it I'm missing? I know it's more than just the people, but whatever it is, I haven't figured out how to recapture or recreate it yet. I have not felt "at home" anywhere since leaving school, and I'm sure that's where my feelings of sadness and longing begin.
I think a lot of people go through that awkward, "homeless" phase between leaving college and starting their own lives, either with someone else or alone. You can move home after college, but your parent's house is just that... their house. It isn't yours anymore. You can rent an apartment, get a roommate or go on to graduate school... I tried them all, some of them several times, but none gave me a sense of "home".
I'm on my fifth apartment and seventh move since leaving college and I've yet to feel it. I'm getting closer though - I have a cat now.
Does it not start until you get married and begin your own family? When you buy a house? Get a dog? Have a child? I'm certain its none of those things. I'm certain its something that happens inside yourself that lets you know that you've found where you belong.
There is a beautiful brick walkway that connects Brooks Hall with North Main Street and the rest of campus. Standing on North Main looking down said walkway is one of my favorite views on campus. Here, see for yourself:
When discussing my feelings with a fellow alum, he said to me: "I'll bet people were pissed when they put in Brook's Walk - 'Stupid walkway, now I can't park my car there'".