College can be a ‘new home’ for growth, finding oneself

Brooke Schwartz, Administration Reporter

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While filling out various forms, I often come across a section that has recently gained the ability to induce a swirl of anxiety in my stomach — the home address line.

When I come across this, my first instinct is to write the address of the house where I had lived for most of my life. The house that is tucked away in the country and where we said good-bye to my childhood dogs, where my brothers learned to walk and where I got dressed for junior prom and graduation. It was the house which taught me the definition of having a home and not just a living space.

As I write down the first letters of this address, I remember that home is now vacant, that the bedroom where I hid after my grandpa died is barren and empty, and the walls my brothers relished drawing on are painted over and bare.

After I moved to college, my family moved into a house, which I had never seen before, and my ideas about “home” completely disintegrated.

This new house contains doors that do not fit into their frame, a shower that too-closely resembles one that is found in a dorm and no empty room for me to work myself into this new chapter of my families’ lives.

I find myself torn. I want to be excited for my family, but at the same time I am acutely aware of all that I have lost. No longer am I to be an active part of the family and this new house. This house had never known me and so it cannot miss me when I am not here.

Being gone is suddenly the norm in this new house. I am not here enough to leave my mark on it. It signaled the end of being included and involved in family dinners and events, it seemed as though I am doomed to be a visitor in what once was my closest friend group.

Now, something as simple as making breakfast becomes an hour-long task as I hunt down a pan and a skillet and whatever ingredients I need, and I have to break and ask my 4-year-old brother to help me find a Tupperware dish.

After considering which address to put on whatever form I am filling out, I decide to write down the address of my college dorm, a place that has truly become my home while the definition of what that means shifts and shatters around me.

College has become a safe haven for me. It may not be where I grew up, but it is where I am growing into myself, and it has become more of a home for me than this new house ever could be.This move has shown me that home is a living word, the definition of which changes as people and circumstances change.

I have learned to look around and find the aspects that I loved of my first home in those people around me, and to find support not in a wood floor but in the people who have found it in themselves to house a little bit of me in them until I find a home again.

Brooke Schwartz is a freshman journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]