I’ve always been a bit of a homebody. When I was young, I had a hard time with sleepovers because all I wanted was to go home and sleep in my own bed. As I got older, those feelings didn’t change much, but I learned how to handle it better (most of the time). When high school rolled around, however, all I wanted to do was get out of my house, get out of town, and get away. I was a typical teenager; all I wanted a new town, new people, and a fresh start. So when I moved to Colorado for college, that’s what I got. Little did I know at the time, moving away would eventually be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
At almost exactly 1200 miles and 18 hours away from Santa Maria, California, Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, was the perfect change of scenery for me. It had everything an incoming college freshman could want: a great downtown area, a diverse student population, and all the outdoor adventures a girl could want. To say I was excited would be an understatement. On top of that, I’d been visiting Fort Collins my whole life on family vacations to see my extended family. So it was a great place to make a new start, but still have a bit of a safety net.
About three months into my first semester at CSU, I began to feel homesick. Things I’d hated about the Central Coast of California, I suddenly craved; the fog, the lack of seasons, the familiarity of it all. I missed it more than I ever thought possible. Luckily, soon after this feeling started, I was able to go home for the holidays and get my fix. This pattern continued throughout my time as an undergraduate- I’d be in school for a few months, miss the heck out of California, go home for a break, and be ready to return to Colorado.
During my last semester of my senior year, I was ready to leave Fort Collins for good. I’d had a great four years, but I was ready for something different, even if different meant moving home to figure out my life. About three weeks before I graduated, however, I received an email about a new master’s program the university had just started. A few faculty members proceeded to encourage me to apply, and while I did, I wasn’t particularly sold on the idea of graduate school. Even though I had been accepted to the program and offered full tuition coverage, I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to continue my education. I was ready to move home, to be back in California, and to start my life. I was tired of Fort Collins and burnt out on school. I was ready to move on. But opportunities like the one I had been offered don’t come around very often, so I chose to return to CSU to begin the second leg of my journey there.
At first, I was extremely happy to go back. It was like I was getting a new start but in the same place with my old friends. It seemed ideal. Unfortunately, however, the excitement soon wore off and I found myself falling into my old cycle again, but much quicker this time. Within a couple months, I was missing home. Every little thing that reminded me of the Central Coast nearly brought tears to my eyes. When I finally got the chance to visit home at Christmas, it wasn’t quite the fix I was jonesing for. I left the coast still wanting more and went back to Fort Collins to finish my second semester of grad school.
Emotionally, it was probably the roughest semester of my life and I quickly found myself dreaming of home. During that semester, however, I found out that home was changing. My mom and step-dad had decided to buy a house in a new town and fix it up. They told the family that they planned on moving by the end of the year. That hit me hard. While I didn’t think I’d necessarily miss Santa Maria, that house had been my home for fifteen years. I went through so much in that house and I had a hard time thinking that it wouldn’t be home anymore.
A couple weeks ago, I was able to take a trip home. In the eight days I was in California, I took full advantage of what it had to offer. I visited family in the Sonoma Valley (one of my absolute favorite places) before heading down to the Central Coast. I took advantage of the delicious Mexican food, the beaches, and being close to family. In addition to that, I took the time to say goodbye to the town and the house that have been home for the last fifteen years. I walked around my neighborhood, thinking about how much the houses had changed over the years. I walked past my old elementary school, internally reminiscing about my childhood years spent there. I spent time wandering around my house, moving from room to room, remembering all the milestones met on those hardwood floors. I lounged in the backyard, appreciating the blooming rosebushes and thinking about my very first dog buried beneath them. I did all of these things as a way of saying goodbye to my long-time home. It was the best way to get closer with the fact that I may never get to truly go home again.
Throughout the last few years, and particularly in the last few weeks, I have been learning to appreciate the past for what it was and to look forward to the future as it comes. Most importantly, however, I’ve been learning that the best way to do both of those things is to live in the moment and be mindful of the experiences you’re having every single day. They say you can’t go home again, and while I might be losing the house I’ve called home for the last fifteen years, I will never lose my home. I truly believe that we make new homes as we go throughout life and each one of those new homes is made up if pieces of your old homes. And in that way, each of us can always go home again.