The honeymoon phase is beginning to show its outermost edge, and I do believe I shortly will be encountering a more mundane kind of reality in life here. Perhaps provoking this sentiment, the days have taken on that particular descending sensation as fall tips over to winter. It’s truly beautiful as all the glaring brightness of the leaves now shows in the dully-glazed damp of chilly rain. As I write this, the sky has been weeping on and off for nearly a full twenty-four hours—one of my friends from Portland, Oregon tells me that all of this feels very much like home to her.
Thoughts of home, I find, are one of the strangest parts of the beginning-college experience. The more I live and grow with these people, the more difficult it is to detect a location as being home. Home, now, feels like some conglomerate togetherness. It’s not a place anymore; it’s the feeling of looking and seeing a neighbor who likewise struggles and with whom you are bound in situation and desire. Home changing for me is disorienting, but it is worthy of the struggle as it is a component to my own emerging into adulthood. As my education pulls from within me deeper and deeper levels of discord, disagreement and inability in order to change what is poor to what is excellent and praiseworthy in life, I am finding a type of yearning emerge. This yearning harkens past my own life and into the togetherness I feel with those who struggle with me.
This is a truer sense of community than I’ve had the privilege of experiencing in the past. It is a home demonstrated in working alongside in vulnerability and in moments of rest and happiness. Many of us have just reached the end of a series of midterm examinations, and it is obvious now that a different, less-introductory and more whole type of relating is becoming.
A culture is growing, one born in hard work and difficult conversation. I don’t think I’ve ever been more challenged in all my life: no category, be it academic, social, spiritual or emotional, is left out of play.
The trees and I now share something, it would seem, for we are both shedding in the midst of a difficult season—they, their leaves from the cold and I, my old, weak thoughts in the hope of stronger ones. There is some distance to be travelled for both of us before awarded what comes next, but this is it. This is the shape of the college experience.
It’s a shedding, and a taking-on, and altogether worthily so.