Unexpected Bliss


In 3rd grade, my family moved to a new homeschool group. It wasn’t very big, but there was one family with two boys who were close to my age. One was a year and a half older than me, the other a year younger. Slowly but surely, our families became closer and closer. We went on field trips together. Had art classes together. Played tennis together. They joined our church. At some point, inevitably, I developed a crush on the older boy. Continue reading

Belonging


Literally the most difficult thing about college is not knowing where I belong. I am split between home and school, without being in a place where I can actually start my own home. It’s painful. Wherever I am, I always miss the other.

But the sense of not belonging actually started long before college. I have lived my whole life in the (deep) South. I love it here. I intend to never live anywhere else (except possibly France). But I do not belong here. Continue reading

Night-time musings on silence and solitude


Nighttime walks back from work are becoming my favorite time of day. At night, campus is quiet. The sidewalks are empty. The flags are snapping in the wind. The sky is clear, moon bright. I know there are people nearby – I can hear the girls laughing and the low murmurs of couples. They aren’t near me though. It feels like campus belongs to me. It is freeing. I don’t have to smile at acquaintances or say hi to friends. No weaving through crowds. No self-consciousness. No awareness – I can get lost in my own head. School has never felt so much like home as it does at night, in silence, surrounded by the never sky.

An anecdotal birthday present


My father’s birthday was this week. I missed it, because I’m at college. If I were home, I would have given him a hug. I’m not a daddy’s girl, but I do miss those sometimes. But since I am here, I am going to write instead.

I never considered my parents to have much to do with my reading, particularly my taste in books. Looking back now, obviously I see a lot more of it, but it is true that for the most part, I chose a lot of the things I read. However, in the last year or two, I have realized that my dad affected my taste in reading quite a bit. As a kid, one of the only things I knew how to talk about was books. So I was constantly talking about what I was reading, and then regularly pestering my parents for any suggestions of books to read. On one such occasion, my dad suggested Lloyd Alexander’s books. I took his suggestion, and as my title evidences, they became favorites of mine. I have read everything of Alexander’s that I can get my hands on (well over half his writings) and loved every moment. Somewhere in the train of my adolescent history, I forgot that my dad lit that spark. When I remembered, it became something precious, a point of connection that we seldom make, and certainly never vocalize.

My father also started me on sci-fi. He suggested Fahrenheit 451 and Isaac Asimov. I read and loved both. From there, I continued to read science fiction. He also suggested Brave New World, which I still remember and will still read at some point.

If you asked me today what my favorite genre was, my answer would likely be either fantasy, or fantasy/sci-fi, since sometimes they blend together inseparably in my mind. In either case, I have to acknowledge that my father probably started me on the path to loving both genres. That is something for which I am unspeakably grateful – small moments that have shaped me in innumerable ways.

Chances are, he doesn’t even realize the impact his book suggestions had on me. He may not even remember suggesting them. But I do. For that, I thank him very much.

Home is Where the Heart Is


You know that saying about having the “best of both worlds”? I’m feeling it…in reverse. I don’t know where my home is anymore. Whether I’m at school or at “home”, I miss the other one. At “home”, I’m surrounded by strangers who have known me my whole life. At school, I’m just surrounded by strangers. At “home”, everything is comfortable, familiar. But I built habits and memories at school too. I miss my church there. I miss early morning walks. I miss working out with my best friend. But when I’m at school, I miss my little sister. I miss walking my dog. I miss the guy I love.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it will probably be this way for all of my college career. It is a strange waiting period – my parents’ home is no longer fully mine, but neither can I start building a home yet. I used to think that I wanted adventure, I wanted to go places. Nowadays, what I really want is a home – somewhere I feel is always mine, with someone who loves me. I used to think that I wanted a career. I had grand plans for going places, making a name for myself. Now I just want to build a home, cook for my husband, raise my kids. It’s strange how growing up changes our priorities…

I go back to school in about a month. I’m excited! I want to see my friends again. I have a crazy schedule this semester and I cannot wait to push myself again. But I dread it. I hate goodbyes. I’ll leave my little sister behind, missing her goofiness and the way she is always there for me. I’ll leave him behind and try not to stare wistfully at all the attached-at-the-hip couples at school. I’m torn in half – and I don’t see it changing for another few years. Sometimes growing up hurts….but I wouldn’t trade it. I just throw myself in and enjoy every moment I can.

 

Snapshot


The dark is warm, enveloping, comforting. Cricket and coyote sounds surround me. The moon is small, blurry with clouds…and my imperfect vision. There are no people to bother me and I am at peace….at home. I love my college. We have a beautiful campus. But it’s not home. There are always people….never a chance to lose myself in the sky. Never the waves of cricket and coyote noises rolling over me. I am glad to be home. At home I can lay on the grass in our yard and watch the stars move across the sky. I can drink in the warmwet air. I can relax.

Sound of Summer in the South


In the south, you can hear and see the heat. Every summer, the ceaseless background noise is the humming of cicadas. As a kid, I actually did think the noise was the sound of heat. There are lots of cicadas where I live, and they have this undulating buzz….a constant up and down, like the way heat looks over pavement. The heat is all-encompassing – hits you like a wet wall when you walk outside, you can see and hear it in waves. I love it – it is invigorating to soak up the sun. It can also be exhausting….it’s impossible to keep from getting sweaty…that can happen in the time it takes to walk from the door to my car.

The cicadas have been a staple of my childhood. They leave these awesome shells, completely intact, around the trees. My sister and I had fun finding and collecting them. The actual cicadas though, we don’t see very often. They stay up in the trees. I did see one though….on a trip to camp. 😀 I was in a cabin with 7 other girls, sharing two showers. When I shook out my towel one morning, a cicada fell out. They look pretty scary, especially to a junior high girl….this big black bug. I knew what it was though, so it didn’t bother me. But I did purposely leave it in the shower when I got out. The following scream was quite satisfying. 😀 In the end, I was the one who took it outside, because I was the only one that knew it was harmless. My final comment about cicadas is that they may be ugly, but they have really pretty iridescent wings. Note: there are many species of cicada all over the world, so everything I’ve mentioned is simply my experience with the cicadas in my area. If you’re curious, I suggest you check out the Wikipedia article I linked earlier. There are great pictures, recordings, even a video of a molting cicada.

This is just one aspect of Southern summer that I love. People complain about the heat here…constantly wish it would be cooler. But I love it. I soak up the heat….wouldn’t trade it for anything. I could never survive up north. I’m a southern girl raised on the summer song of the cicada.

What’s your favorite thing about summer in your area?

How College Spoiled Me Rotten


That sounds so wrong, doesn’t it? College spoiling someone…college is the place of wretched roommates, life-sucking tests and projects, dreaded final exams, and suppers of grilled cheese made on irons.

But that’s where we are wrong. Let me list a few ways college spoiled me.

1. Routine. I come from a house where the only routine is…no routine. Over the years, I’ve caught glimpses of the frustration that lack of routine can cause, but never fully appreciated it. I couldn’t understand why my older sisters came home from college with this annoying habit of constantly cleaning and wanting everything to happen right away. But now I understand. I love my routine at college. It keeps me sane. Every day, I wake up, shower, eat breakfast, go to work or class, and from 8 to at least 5, my day is planned. My evenings aren’t fully planned, but I always have a mental agenda. At home, it is nothing like that. And yes, it drives me insane. If we’re making supper, I want to make supper, eat supper, go on to something else,  not talk about what we might have for supper while browsing Facebook…..and eat 2 hours later.

1a. Cleanliness. This is not the case at all schools, but at mine, we are required to have clean rooms 6 days a week. Seriously. Our rooms are checked and there are penalties for not meeting standard. So things are almost always reasonably neat and clean, and if they aren’t, they will be within 24 hours. Not so here….and I find myself impulsively straightening things as I move about the house.

2. Access to everything. At college, I am a 5 minute or less walk from a gym, library, game room, snack shop (with 3 restaurants), dining common, soccer fields, running track, art museum, and planetarium. Here…..I have yet to figure out a work out schedule. I don’t want to pay for a gym for 3 months. I can’t walk into a dining common full of food choices, take my pick, and leave my dishes for someone else afterwards. This can be extremely frustrating.

3. Adulthood. This hit me just Sunday, but at college, everyone treats me like an adult. All of my professors are extremely respectful. They never treat us like children. The environment is one of respect and professional civility. Just two days after returning home, I took my sister and some friends (all high schoolers) out to eat. The typical southern endearments of the staff (“sweetie” “young lady” “darling”) caught me off guard. I’m no longer used to being treated like a little girl. Some might argue that in southern culture, they weren’t even doing that…just being friendly. In that case, I am simply no longer used to being treated that casually.

This all boils down to one thing: focus. I have become accustomed to everything in my life being focused on a single goal: making college work for me. When I’m at school, I seldom have to worry about anyone but myself. My only focus is success. Be that cleanliness, organization, agenda, or just a relief from all domestic duties, it is justified because my focus is school. At home, I have no idea how to cope. I’m still taking classes, so the focus is still there, but it fights with my family, boyfriend, books, British TV shows, and a full-time job. I just don’t know how to mesh that all.

How’s that for a first college post? High schoolers, go to college, it will spoil you! But you may have no idea how to live with normal people again…

Whether the sea is boiling hot


My first year of college is almost over. Let that sink in….do you have any idea how far away this has seemed? All the times during childhood that college was only a far-off dream…and now my first year is done! With the finish line looming and various academic pressures removed from my brain, I have started brainstorming a number of posts about my conclusions from this first year. I say a number of posts because there is so much to tell that one post would inevitably be TL:DR.

So, what illustrious topics will this series of posts cover? Allow me to whet your appetite!

In no specific order:

friends * growth * academics * personality changes * responsibility * distance and relationships * respect * family

I plan to write most of those posts in the next few weeks, interspersed with my usual commentary on literature and some issues that came up in my studies. In just over a week I will be back home with loads of free time! Totally kidding…I will be home, but not with free time….the full-time job and 15 credits of online classes will be running my life.

Other students….observations on the end of the year? Is it stressful? Fulfilling?

Readers in general, any of the topics I mentioned seem especially interesting? Comment and let me know. 🙂 I might make it my first post!

Home?


I am on Thanksgiving break from college. The prospect of this break and returning home has had me very excited for the last few weeks. But being home has given me a lot to think about. Here are my observations.

1. I like my home a lot more than I thought I did. I have lived in the same house in the same small town my entire life. Traveling has always been very exciting to me. And I have always assumed that I would move far away after college. I still enjoy traveling, but there is definite joy in returning to the familiarity of home. As things stand, there is a possibility that I will be returning home after college and that does not scare me nearly as much now.

2. College has become a home to me. My roommate is constantly getting on to me when I slip up and call our room “home.” She’ll correct me and say that we’re going back to our room, not home. But here at real home, I find myself thinking “back at home….” as I say “back at school.” The only explanation I can give for this is that I enjoy school. I have settled into a routine there. Yes, this house in a small southern town will always be “home,”
but I’m getting used to college.

 
3. I am a different person at school. I don’t feel like I have changed so drastically, but I take on a very different persona at school, where I am responsible for myself and everything I have to get done. Here at home, it is easy to slip back into lazy/bad habits from before. Honestly, it makes me a bit nervous to come home for a significant period of time. Thanksgiving break is only a few days. Christmas will be a month and then summer will be three months. I am still not positive how I will deal with that.

Guys, what are your observations on this? How do you adjust to this weird dynamic that college causes?