Lauren Agresti | Thank God it’s Parents’ Weekend
Piece of Mind | After three years, I’ve realized you really can’t go home again
October 4, 2012, 1:33 am·
Piece of Mind
I’ve been in a mood. That’s the only way to describe it. Over the past two weeks, I’ve snapped at almost everyone I know and cried for no reason exactly three times.
Last Saturday, I threw a temper tantrum at Tap House because I couldn’t find my ID (it was at the bottom of my purse). Sorry, world.
At first, I could not for the life of me figure out what was going on. After reading College junior Adam Silver’s column about bonding over Bruce Springsteen with his mom and sixth-year doctoral student Kurt Mitman’s piece on picking up the phone, I was inspired to call my mom for some insight.
She didn’t have a clue what was wrong with me, but I figured it out the second I hung up the phone and her voice disappeared — I’ve been homesick.
Homesickness is a funny thing, as College freshman Divya Ramesh aptly pointed out in her column at the beginning of this year. Initially, you feel displaced — craving familiar surroundings and people — but this changes as you get older.
Most of the time, I could not be happier at Penn. I run from meetings to classes back to meetings and interact with the most brilliant, capable people. I am grateful for every opportunity to get involved on campus and can honestly say I learn something new every single day.
I also have the most supportive and encouraging friends who have seen me at my worst and, for some reason, stuck around.
From the outside, I appear very much at home here. Since I publicly resolved to be friendlier, I can’t go anywhere without being deluged with smiles and waves.
But even after years in Philadelphia, I sometimes find myself feeling intensely uncomfortable. It’s not because I’m in an unfamiliar place but because I feel increasingly disconnected from the idea of home I had at my parent’s house in Maryland.
There are the days I run out of allergy pills, but I don’t know how my mail-order prescriptions work. And I realize my eyes are going to have to be itchy until I make umpteen phone calls between my doctor’s office and the insurance company to figure everything out. I’m end up feeling lost and overwhelmed.
There are the early mornings when I have 300 pages to read and my desk is covered in all kinds of things that don’t belong to me — ghosts of a weekend get-together that (apparently) involved Wawa mac and cheese, PBR and someone’s socks. My space was commandeered by semi-strangers.
It doesn’t exactly make me angry, it just feels weird.
There are the late nights when I need someone to talk to but none of my friends are around. They’re busy with meetings, drinking and significant others or getting the hours of sleep I’m missing.
And there are times (when nobody’s looking) I eat my housemate’s semisweet chocolate chips straight out of the bag. The number of chocolate chips consumed is typically inversely proportional to the number of boys in my life who are treating me well.
A lot of chocolate chips have come and gone. (Sorry Jake, it was me).
Although it’s been three years, these moments make it hard to feel at home. Home is not supposed to be lonely and confusing. As far as I’m concerned, home is clean and warm and full of magic allergy pill refills.
Home is a place where there are people who, after work, have nothing better to do than to care about me unconditionally. No BYOs or midterms or rush events take precedence over listening to my irrational emotional breakdowns. There is only love — even when I eat all the chocolate chips. In fact, especially when I eat all the chocolate chips.
So even though my 22nd birthday is around the corner, I miss my parents and my brother and my mouse-free bedroom. I miss home.
No matter how much I love Penn, there is nothing here that can stop the missing. So I’ve learned to deal with it.
That’s the thing about homesickness. It gets better. Except for when it doesn’t.
Lauren Agresti is a College senior from Fulton, Md. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @lagresti. “Piece of Mind” appears every Thursday.