By Kristine Pascual, Sept. 12, 2023
On my first official day of college, my grandpa died.
I received several texts and calls from my family asking to call them as soon as possible. We all knew for months this was coming, but I never thought it would creep up on me and happen as soon as it did.
I vividly remember taking the phone call in my room. My aunt FaceTimed me asking if I wanted to say goodbye. He already passed by then, but seeing him in the hospital bed was an excruciatingly painful feeling I now associate with the first day of freshman year.
I went home that weekend to be with my family and initially it was the same. It was comforting. I had been away at college for a few days before I came back home and that’s when the realization hit me and recognizing the familiarity of my home felt strange. This was a feeling I never felt in my life. I felt like a guest in the bedroom I once inhabited for 18 years. The personality I built in that room was stripped and packed away for my dorm room.
Growing up I was never one to be homesick. I enjoyed being away from home and did not even think twice about missing my bed.
As time went on and several semesters flew by, the number of times I visited home exponentially decreased. And each time I did come home, I felt further away from my family, like there was no longer room for me.
Once I moved out, my family shifted their focus and a new dynamic was born. My sister Kaitlyn began a new chapter post-graduation to kick off her career as a registered nurse. My mom works at the same hospital, so they had something new to bond over. These are the conversations I listened to but had no way to participate due to my lack of hospital knowledge.
I slept in my childhood room, ate all meals at the same dinner table and took naps on couches older than me. I never thought a place so close to my heart would make me feel so out of place.
As for my parents, they started taking care of my 1-year-old and 2-year-old cousins. Two new birds in their nest where I felt I no longer belonged.
Our living room is filled with toys for toddlers and our kitchen with remnants of baby food scattered across counters. My relationship with my cousins feels weird because they are not quite my sisters, though some days they feel like it. Yet at the same time, I feel like an aunt figure because I’m 18 years older than them.
I always considered myself as the black sheep of my family — my dad likes to point that out. I think we relate to each other, being the odd one out in the family. Not that it’s a bad thing, I actually enjoy being different from everyone else in my family.
Prior to college, I never experienced a home apart from the one where I grew up. Truthfully living in a dorm on campus never felt like home, and I’m still searching for that familiar feeling.
In the meantime, I find home in other people, but everyone likes to say that. I find home in my hobbies. I find home in family photo albums. I find home in the words I read across the pages of my favorite novels. I find home in making chocolate chip cookies from scratch and cleaning my room.
I’ve discovered a home in my boyfriend Evan. I find home in his words, home cooked meals and affection.
But mostly I find home in my family. Whether I’m living at home for the summer or making plans on weekends to hang out with my sister, my family will always feel like home regardless of the living situation.
Everyone feels out of place at some point as if it’s impossible to fully fit in anywhere. Home is there if you look hard enough. We meet a plethora of people throughout our short lives, friends will come and go. It’s just a matter of figuring out with whom you hold true connections. It’s always important to remember that the quality of a friend outweighs the quantity of friends.
But one thing I like to keep in mind is change is normal, but it’s also sometimes uncomfortable.
Feature image by Lauren Wong
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