It’s good to be home, but it’s also strange. I am struck again and again by how different my life is now. As I drove to Millington for an appointment today, I marveled at the quiet roads and open fields. It’s all so familiar and normal, yet a completely different reality now exists for me. Perhaps because I have yet to bring anyone home to Millington with me, my college world and my home world have not collided. It’s as if College Alyssa is still in Chicago, living her life with her friends, while Millington Alyssa is back here – sleeping in the basement, driving the Taurus, eating real food, and doing homework at the kitchen table.
I show my mom pictures of school, pointing out people using only first names like she knows who they are. “Oh, that’s Alyssa and James and David and Grace and Hailee,” I say, as if those names should click in her head the way they do in mine. By the end of the last month’s worth of photos, she’s learned, “That’s the one from Kalamazoo, that’s the one from the Philippines, that’s the transfer, that’s the girl from Owosso.” But she’ll never live with them, never know them like I do.
It’s a strange realization, that my parents don’t know all of my friends and probably never will truly know them. When I think of Alyssa, David, Grace, and James, I think of eye rolling and hours of talking, early Christmas music and incessant back-and-forth teasing, deep discussions and mocking CWC films, and shared bus and train rides back to the Mitten. I think of late minutes, walks to the beach, spontaneous activities, movie nights, crocheting, and countless other memories. My parents can maybe match a name and a face, might know of an activity or two that one of those people was a part of… but that’s it.
College Alyssa couldn’t be more different from Millington Alyssa, and as College Alyssa returns to Millington, there’s a strange struggle inside of me. It’d be easy for Millington Alyssa to return and slip back into the life I’ve always known. Yet, I love the person college is turning me into. The problem is, people in Millington haven’t watched the transformation. They don’t sit at the table in the SDR for hours. They couldn’t tell you how to get to Forever Yogurt or the difference between the Target on Roosevelt and the one on Wilson. They didn’t sit in that Women’s Min event with me, they don’t show up for Pow-Wows and Prayer every night. They weren’t there when Trevor was rushed to the hospital or when my Molly and I had our freshman breakdowns on the exact same day.
I try to relate funny stories, share anecdotes, even describe emotions that I’ve felt. I attempt to share bits and pieces of the person I’m becoming, but it’s hard. I journal about how much I hate growing up, how I’m not ready to be on my own and be an adult – yet I wouldn’t trade life at Moody for the world. When I’m away from school, I’m homesick for Chicago streets, the late nights in the library, the hours at the SDR table, and most of all the people. Life is changing, shifting, moving faster than I can keep up with.
I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say. It’s like my life is this paradox of loving being off and on my own and missing childhood. It’s a conflict between embracing who I truly am and just wanting to be my parents’ kid forever and ever, never making a decision. It’s confusing, it’s distressing, and sometimes it makes me cry. Thank goodness I have Jesus holding my hand and reading my journal.