You want another secret? Well here’s one that isn’t really so secret after all. I loved college and fear I perhaps peaked during those four years (at least it wasn’t high school amirite??)
I went to Ohio University and there is no other way to describe it than calling it home. It was home. It still is. The people and the brick streets and the old buildings and the open mindedness of that campus has remained with me long after all the college exams and hangovers have faded. I grew so much from the timid 18 year old girl that dreamed of re-inventing herself from high school to the (most of the time) confident 22 year old woman who nearly had to be dragged away from the town of Athens, Ohio where OU is nestled.
I go back often. Far more often than most (in fact I went this weekend), but I do have reasons that don’t just have to do with re-living the glory days. My boyfriend is still there and many of my friends remain, finishing up their 5th year “victory laps” or continuing their education at grad school. But more than anything, OU makes me happy. I feel like the best version of myself when I am there. It reminds me of what life was like before I was forced to enter the real world of grocery shopping and paying for cable bills that I don’t even fully utilize bc thanks @netflix and @hulu.
I will tell you, it’s a weird feeling– going back and having to leave, knowing that I’m not really apart of it anymore. I’m an alumni, sure. But those bricks and the hills and the apartment I lived in my senior year and Crawford Hall room 111 aren’t really mine anymore. They are mine from the past. They always will be. But the Athens that is there now belongs to others, younger than I, and ready for their own transformations. It was (and often still is) the hardest thing I have ever had to let go of and I will not ever claim I have done it gracefully. There have been far too many nights of an aching heart and a tear-streaked face to say that. But, I will say I feel less and less sad every time I depart after a trip there.
It’s an odd thing; feeling heartbreak over a place and a time. It’s not like with a person. Places and times never lash out or give you reason to be angry so you have no choice but to remain in love with them and therefore, hold on much longer than you should.
These days, I have to remember that I am so lucky I had those four years. Many never will. Now others must have theirs. However, it does all come to an end and they will tell you to leave (even mail you a piece of very expensive paper to prove it). But it’s not true what they say. You can go home again. And a little part of it will still always be just for you.