Spring break is in five days and I have zero motivation to do anything at all. Spring fever and homesickness (and maybe a dash of something else) have all left me feeling distracted and restless and altogether exhausted. No matter how much I sleep.
I’m excited though! I get to spend time with all my people. I get to road trip with my friends away from the dumpster fire of stress that is Yale. I get to spend several days with the best aunt in the world, while at my favorite place in the world (the beach). I get to spend so much time with my boy, who I miss like crazy (and his family!). I’ll have a girls’ night out with my best friend, and I’ll return to my old high school and see Mr. B and all the other teachers I love. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see my dad and my brother and nephew and little cousins.
If I have enough time. I never have enough time when I go home.
A common theme in my poetry (and my writing in general) is home. My understanding of what home is has changed a lot over the last few years. After my mom died, I grappled to understand how anywhere could be home without her. And then we moved, and I spent less time in the physical house we lived in. Then my dad moved out. Then I left for college, and I felt like I didn’t have a home anymore.
Now, oddly enough, I feel like I have too many homes. I’ve come to realize that home is not so much a physical place, as much as it as a feeling of belonging. And I feel like I belong at Yale with my friends, and I feel like I belong with Linda, no matter where she goes. And I feel like I belong with Justin and his family (my family). And I feel like I belong with Mikaela and her family (also my family) . I feel like I belong with my family (even though it took me some time to come to terms with how my family changed after we lost Mama). I belong in New Haven, in Leland, in Gastonia, in Fort Mill, in Kings Mountain. I feel at home in so many places, but I can’t be in this many places at once.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a poem called “hand holding is for pansies”. It has this line that I keep going back to: “Too soon, we cross the state line. I wish I could always be in two places at once.” I used to pull over at the state line on my way to get gas in South Carolina (it’s always cheaper there). I would sit there and think about what it meant to be in two places at once. Of course, anyone can step on either side of a arbitrary boundary and say they’re in two places at once. The funny thing about the NC/SC border at this particular point is that it’s in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t feel like I was in two places, I felt like I was nowhere; alone in my car, separated from everyone and everything else for just that moment.
I remember exactly what I was feeling when I wrote that line, exactly what I meant. I was afraid to leave Justin behind when I left for college. I feel it in a different way now. I am afraid to leave everyone behind as I grow older. Home keeps changing; my family is growing, I am growing, and I am terrified of what all of this change means. There’s a good chance that I will not return to North Carolina when I finish school. I don’t know where I will go.
I’ve known this for a long time. I only applied to three colleges: Stanford, Yale, and Chapel Hill. My plan was always to leave. I chose a life that would take me away from my home. I don’t regret that, but I do realize that it won’t be easy. Mo matter where I go, I’m going to feel homesick for one of my homes. I can’t take everybody with me.
This is the hardest part of growing up. I have to leave people. I have to leave my old self and some of her dreams behind. I have to constantly amend my definition of home. I have to learn ways to be present in multiple places at once without being actually being present.
I have to learn to accept that home will never be what it used to be, that I will make mistakes, that I cannot please everyone and that ultimately I am the one who has to live with my own decisions.
So, I can’t wait for Spring Break. I get to go home. But I have to leave home too.