This I Believe

Melinda - Buffalo, New York
Entered on June 20, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, place

I believe that sometimes it is harder to come home, than it is to leave.

After college, I found an easy way out of my hometown, and escaped to graduate school. I narrowed down schools, and settled on traveling a mere four hours across the State to our State capital, a true metropolis. As I unpacked the boxes to my first apartment, all on my own, I was excited and thrilled at my independence.

It took all of two days before I realized that I was miserable. My apartment began to feel like a prison, solitary confinement. I missed my college roommates, a.k.a. built in friends and entertainment. I hugged my computer screen and cell phone like they were my sole connection to the outside world. Could this be happening, I missed home!

Of course things got better; as time passed I created my own life, on my own terms. I made true friends, not friends of circumstance, fell in love with my downstairs neighbor, and grew to love my community. Basically, I grew up.

But my love for home still lingered in my subconscious. I fondly told “war stories” about the snow and cold, perfectly exaggerating each time about the height of the snow banks. I boasted about everything, how “we” were the home of the chicken wing, the amazing underground art and music scene, the neighborhoods, and people. You name it I bragged about it. In fact bragged so much about my hometown, that three years after I left, I decided to move home.

Home sweet home, I thought as we unpacked our bags in our apartment. The first two months my boyfriend and I rediscovered our new home and its treasures. My family treated us like local celebrities, all cheering upon our arrival at every family gathering. Even though we were having fun, as the newness wore off, I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling that things were different.

Finally while lying awake one night, it hit me. Although I had evolved, become a new and improved me, this place I called home hadn’t changed at all. Instead what had changed was that my college friends all left to find jobs down south. My relatives were getting older and passing away, and neighborhoods were changing in every way imaginable. The things that made the place my home were gone. I found myself longing for the days and the places of my childhood, the things I bragged about. I became enraptured by this sense of loss.

Then one morning as a walked down the busy street to work, in an epiphany it all became clear. The past is etched deep into my soul and will always remain a part of me. The places I have lived and the people I have met along the way have made me who I am. Longing for those and times that are gone, can only inhibit my heart from realizing the gifts of the present. My home is a jewel in the rough, an undiscovered secret that we call our own. So now as I travel the streets of this familiar town, instead of longing for the past I am excited by the unknown that is the future. I understand and appreciate that each corner, nook and memory are the silent authors of my biography.