Monday, January 9, 2012

Homesickness Hurts the Heart

Being homesick is a terrible thing.

Before I moved off to college, I thought it would never happen to me. I hated being home because being home meant constantly fighting with my mom over my grades and whether or not I could go hang out with my friends. I resented the fact that I...


*laughs* I don't actually remember what I hated about being home anymore. I do, however, recall the feeling itself and how the tension and anger would build until my mom and I would be screaming at each other over something minor. I couldn't wait to get away.

But being over 350 miles away from home for months at a time changes your perspective. I quickly learned that living with other people is a weirdweird thing. Even living with someone I saw almost every day during high school was eye-opening because she and I both had quirks that we didn't know about each other before college. A few weeks into my first quarter, I started going stir-crazy because every little thing that my roommates did would drive me up the wall. I wasn't used to sharing my space with other people. By the time Thanksgiving came around and I knew I could go home for a few days, back to the familiar and known, I was so ready. Those precious four days were a very welcome relief to the frustration I felt towards my roommates when they set their alarm clocks for much earlier than they actually got up or made a phone call when I was trying to study.

I never knew how quiet and peaceful home was until I went back that first Thanksgiving. When I turned out the light to go to bed, there was this deafening silence that I'd never noticed before. No PINGing of the elevator or people chattering outside my door or loud music pounding through the wall. There was no clacking of laptop keys as my roommates continued to study or the sounds of the bathroom fan or the shower running to startle me out of a light sleep. The ticktock of our coocoo clock downstairs was calming and the fact that there were two other human beings nearby who were genuinely interested in having a conversation with me was so strange. The clicking of my dog's nails on the kitchen linoleum meant that she was padding over to put her head on my lap. I felt loved. And it wasn't something that I was used to feeling at home. Not that I wasn't loved before I went off to college, but I just had taken it for granted because it was all I knew. I never knew how hurtful it could be to be ignored when you're trying to make conversation or how empty and isolated you can feel with two other people sitting right next to you.

I wasn't completely aware of how nice it was to be home just yet though. Because I was young and naive {grins}, I still had my high school temper, which resulted in a few arguments with my mom the last two days of Thanksgiving break. That meant by the time Monday morning came around and I headed back to school, I thought I was ohsoready to go back. Granted, I also had an assignment due that day the moment I stepped off the plane, so I didn't have time to be sad.

Those next two weeks, though, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I found myself with absolutely no motivation to study for or take my upcoming finals. I didn't want to be at school. I'd rather have been at home. There were no assignments due at home, no almost-all-nighters, no stress. And that small tantalizing taste of being able to sleep in taunted me on days when I had to stay up reading textbooks.

I've somewhat learned my lesson. These past two years, I haven't gone home for Thanksgiving. I've found that it is better to stay at school and focus on studying and getting ready for finals than it is to tease myself with four days of home and coming back completely unprepared to tackle two weeks of hardcore cramming and testing. Do I miss my parents & my dog? Of course. Dreadfully. But it makes coming home for Christmas break that much sweeter. And my grades on my finals are better because I wasn't distracted.

Last Christmas break {sophomore year}, I finally started to understand the joy of being at home with people who love you. Freshman year, I'd spent a good portion of my break on the computer, not interacting with my parents. But last year I only turned on the computer once a day, late at night, for a few minutes to read emails and check Facebook. My dad and I spent time trying to finish a 2000 piece puzzle of Van Gogh's 'Starry Night'. And trust me, it was super time-consuming.

This year, however, I think I did even better at spending quality time with my parents and making the most out of the few weeks of break we got together. I feel like I should apologize for not posting anything since Christmas Eve, but I honestly can't say I regret it. I had things I wanted to share and ideas for things to post about, but it was amazing how freeing not turning on the computer at all for those two weeks felt. My brain took a break and I didn't feel tied to the Internet. I knew my daily blog reads were updating, but I just couldn't find that worth pushing the 'On' button of my computer and losing precious minutes {or hours, if we're being completely honest} staring at a screen when I could be spending time with my parents.

It's amazing how far 352 miles is when you're spending it apart for about eight months out of the year. It's amazing what kind of difference 352 miles has made on my relationship with my parents.

I teared up that first night back after Christmas break freshman year. I felt truly lonely for possibly the first time in my life. In the face of my being an only child and having grown up used to keeping myself company, I'd say that was a pretty big thing. But what I feel right now, this awful throat-tightening, tummy-clenching, teary-eyed heart-longing I have to be home instead of on my bed typing this in my college apartment, is infinitely worse.

I never thought I'd get homesick. Home wasn't a place I wanted to be.

Now it's the only place I want to be.

Lovely that I realize that twenty years into my existence and not sooner. Typical me. But I suppose it's better later than never, right? And I do hope this yucky feeling goes away soon. It's caused a total lack of motivation to do absolutely anything at all, and I need that oomph and excitement to start this new quarter and carry me through midterms. After midterms, it's sheer willpower and the thought of Easter break.

Actually, at the moment, it's the thought of Easter break that's keeping me going now. *rueful laugh* Who knew there'd come a day when being home was something I'd look forward to?

It's part of growing up, I suppose. Realizing mistakes and trying to fix them.

I hope your Christmas and New Year's was wonderful and don't mind me if I write some Christmas-y/end-of-the-year posts mid-January. Who said you can't be reflective at the start of a new year? *grins*

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