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Along with decking the halls, trimming the trees and roasting chestnuts over an open fire, the holiday season often entails packing your bag for a trip home. Whether your family home is across the street or across the country, the transition between your independent college lifestyle and your return to the empty nest is often a difficult one to manage.
All semester you mourn the loss of your mom’s home-cooked meals, your childhood pet’s loving slobber and the nostalgic familiarity of places other than your favorite bars and that breakfast place you always go to when you’re really hungover. However, when you finally find yourself scrunched into your twin bed staring at the ceiling of your childhood room, you discover that the ache for home has yet to subside.
Could you actually be pining for your Target-furnished, Chef Boyardee-scented bungalow back at school? I don’t mean to go all cliché Garden State, but there is truly no better way of explaining this sensation than realizing we are all homesick for a place that no longer exists. We are now modern-day nomads with multiple residences depending on the season.
When I migrate home for the winter, I am filled with warmth at the sight of my family and friends welcoming me back with open arms. Unfortunately, the warmth I feel from those I love is equal to the anxiety brought on by feelings of regression.
A simple trip to my local grocery store quickly becomes an internally narrated tour of all my teenage angst complete with running into everyone I’ve never wanted to see again. This includes my middle school gym teacher who eagerly barrages me with questions regarding my exact future career endeavors and current steps to reach them. Suddenly I’m tossing and turning — a feat that becomes dangerous in a bed meant for a tween — at 5 a.m., with visions of the lady who once condoned dodge balls to be flung at me now suggesting I’m a failure with her judging eyes as I tell her I’m kind of just “going with the flow for now.”
If every venture home puts me one existential crisis closer to my breaking point, and every night at school leaves me craving some kitty cuddles and comfort food, then when, exactly, am I supposed to turn the knob, walk through the door and confidently exclaim to nobody in particular, “Honey, I’m home!”
Must I tie the knot, buy a house and fill it with kids of my own before I feel the comforting familiarity of being “home, sweet home” again?
The answer is no. While the consistent feeling of homeyness we all take for granted might not always be probable, it is felt in moments of simple contentedness with those we love. Whether it be watching a stupid television show with your roommate over a bowl of slightly burnt popcorn or waking up to the sounds of your dad cooking breakfast downstairs, as we age, home becomes less of a physical destination and more of a feeling. It can be found in unlikely places — like the backseat of a car on a long road trip with your friends — but it will always include those who are dear to your heart.
If you’re craving more of this sickening sentimental blabber, don’t you worry. There will be plenty more where that came from when you’re awkwardly mingling with distant cousins at your upcoming holiday party.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Lizzy Hernandez atElizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.