My family was living in South Carolina when I made the decision to go to Carson-Newman University in Tennessee. It was only six hours from homean easy weekend trip. But then my Dad got a new job. A week after my family took me to college, they moved to Texas.
No problem. I didn't really even think about it. College was a blast. I was making friends, filling up my time with plays, groups, late-night movies and, oh yeah, classes. Then, a few weeks before Christmas, during one of my usual Sunday night phone calls to my family, it happened.
"When you come home," Mom said, "we'll have to take you out to Galveston." Wait a minute, I thought. I am home. College was where my friends were. I felt settled and comfortable. My family's home might be Texas, but mine was Tennessee.
A few weeks later, I was on a plane to a strange city, strange people and a strange house my family called "home." When I got off the plane, my parents and my 6-foot tall "little" brother met me at the gate. "We're so happy to have you home," Dad said as he handed me a beautiful red rose. I didn't remember him ever giving me flowers before. I started crying right there in the middle of the airport. I didn't want to be there, so far away from my new home, and I felt guilty for thinking that. Didn't I love my family? I wondered. Shouldn't I be happy to see them?
Deep down, I knew I was happy to see them. But more than my address had changed since they dropped me off at school. At college, I'd become more independent and was used to making my own decisions. Their decision to move to Texas was out of my hands, and that made me uncomfortable.
I was also used to seeing my college friends every day. I'd come to rely on them, and they supported me like a family. Because of them, my transition into college was relatively easy. I never guessed my transition back "home" would be so much harder.
My family's move to Texas was only part of the problem. I'm sure that even if our family still lived in South Carolina, things would have been a little strange. My college friends returned to their hometowns and also found things had changed. Some of their high school friends chose to attend local colleges, to work or to get married. Friends who once shared everything from study hall to football practice suddenly had nothing in common.
At "home" in Houston, I just moped around all Christmas break, feeling sorry for myself. There was nothing familiar to hold on to. I met one new person after another and saw lots of new places. But I wasn't interested in any of itI wanted to be back in Tennessee, or even South Carolina, where I at least recognized people and knew my way around. I felt sad and out of place.
I knew my parents were concerned about me and a little hurt that I wouldn't talk to them about my feelings, but I didn't want them to think I was a traitor to the family. That's kind of how I felt, though. So many questions kept running through my brain, like, "Where do I belong? Will this house ever feel like home?"
After what seemed like a year, it was time to go back to school. My family drove me to the airport, where I felt even guiltier because I was so happy to be leaving. How could I be such an ungrateful daughter? I asked myself. What's wrong with me?
By my junior year, I'd figured out there was nothing wrong with me. It helped when a friend told me, "You know, sometimes the thought of going home is better than the reality." I walked away from that conversation feeling pretty normal and knowing that other people had to adjust to major changes, too.
Change isn't always a bad thing, though. Without it, I might get comfortable where I am and forget life has such infinite possibilities. And I'd never learn what good things new places have to offer.