Less than a month ago, I told you guys all about my college town, Athens, Ohio, and about my constant struggle to let her go. Almost three and a half years after my graduation, I’m still living in a post-college let down. And I’m constantly wanting to go back home.
Well, last Thursday I got to do just that.
And I got to share that rainy, chilly, yet completely perfect day with two of my very best friends.
We shopped like it was going out of style…
ate like we were in need of the freshman fifteen…
danced like we had nothing to worry about…
and drank like the last three years never happened.
It was a perfect celebration of the social and silly half of the life we shared down there. Athens is the kind of town where you can make friends with anyone. It has the uncanny ability to bring people together. With the setting of the sun, something in that town subtly and effortlessly blurs the lines that normally exist between strangers and enemies. It makes everyone prettier, nicer, funnier, easier to accept and more accepting. Athens is the great equalizer, but not in that break you down kind of way. Instead, it makes you better than you’ve ever been.
It’s easy to fall in love in Athens.
But there is another side of it. Or at least another side of who that town let me be.
I’ve always been the kind of person who is okay spending time alone; largely, I suppose, because I always feel very strongly connected to other people, even when they are nowhere to be found. But before college I struggled to find a balance between my loner side and my need to have a close-knit group of friends.
Somehow, in Athens, that balance became easy and graceful. It’s like there is more life to live in that town. More time and space, plenty of both to accommodate every side of who I needed to be. And as you can imagine, I’m at my best when I’m allowed to be everything that I am—loner and best friend, dreamer and doer, soft spoken observer and opinionated writer.
And I guess that’s what I’m still craving—the quiet and the space. The walking through college green with no purpose or direction. The lingering in a coffee shop for countless hours. The time between classes that you never knew what to do with until you didn’t have it. I miss the freedom.
As I type that word, freedom, I imagine what you all must be thinking. If long for freedom, I must feel trapped. And I guess I do, in a way. But I take myself captive; it’s not at the hands of anyone else. I don’t explore and wander here like I did in Athens. I’ve become a bit of a shut-in and being back home, even just for a day, even with friends to distract me, has given me the taste of freedom I needed.
Last weekend, I returned to the one place on this earth that is most familiar to me. This weekend, I’m just hoping to get lost for awhile.
And I suppose that’s an accurate measure of a home worth having: While you’re there, you cherish the feelings it gives you. And once you’ve left, you crave the very opposite of those feelings. If it were any other way, we’d never leave home and then those special feelings would get lost in the resentment of every day bullshit.
These are the things I tell myself to justify not being where I belong.