“I let it go. It’s like swimming against the current. It exhausts you. After a while, whoever you are, you just have to let go, and the river brings you home.”
-Joanne Harris, from Five Quarters of the Orange
I’ve always been proud of myself for a very simple, very stupid, reason: I was not the college kid who ran home when things weren’t going well. I had always heard that students who go home when life sucks at college are taking the easy route out, are ignoring their problems, are refusing to face reality.
So I haven’t taken the easy route when things get hard at school. I’m just not that kid. In my 3 years at Linfield, I’ve gone home spontaneously exactly twice. Spring semester of my freshman year, a friend in my music theory class was desperate to drive home and wanted a buddy. We live five minutes from each other, so I agreed. It was a disappointing and too short weekend, and I vowed to never do it again.
Last Thursday was the larger of the two exceptions. I have felt overwhelmed and scared and trapped at Linfield for what feels like months; this school year has been one of the rockiest on a personal level and on an academic level. I didn’t go home last summer, which I thought was a great idea at the time. But it has affected every fiber of my being in the past 9 months and has made me stir crazy. The week of Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas, and the barely-a-week at Spring Break were not enough.
I’m a homebody, I admit. I crave familiarity. I delight in the hugs of my mother and the encyclopedia of my father. I know when my dogs need out or wish to be petted each day, even when I am not around. I have a physical need for listening to Splendid Table each Sunday with a cheese plate and the same two buck chuck and a good book if the show is boring. I fantasize about evenings with the Sirius Sinatra station and the comfort of my favorite armchair. I feel that each cell in my body belongs there, in the tiny rambler in Lynnwood, WA with two loving parents, a labrador retriever, a pitbull, and a constant flurry of houseguests.
I know. That’s kind of sad. College is the best time of my life, right? And for awhile, it was. I have many lovely friends at Linfield who keep me sane, and I have new routines and new enjoyments. But too often those traditions are not enough to keep me grounded on this campus. For the first two years, everything was new and lovely. Now, campus feels cold, uninviting, like I’ve outstayed my welcome.
So I drove home. Some friends helped me pack my car at 10:30 at night on Thursday, and I drove the 4 and 1/2 hours to Lynnwood. I can’t say it was a smart decision. But I certainly don’t regret it. For the smallest sliver of time imaginable, I got to have those comforts again. We even took the usual family road trip to Spokane, WA to visit my grandmother––there was a mother-daughter tea at her church.
I can’t say it was a good idea. I can’t say that I’m not exhausted or that I got all the homework I wanted to get done, done. I can’t justify it rationally.
But this time, I needed to go home.
Thanks for stopping by.
Featured photo by me, of my monkey Joe. My friend Jessica has a matching one named Jim, and Joe and Jim snapchat each other often while doing ordinary things. Joe and I were driving home from Seattle when we snapped this photo. He may be a little blurry, but he sure is a cutie!