Forced smiles while choking on forbidden goodbyes, reality intensifying, the cease of the clock, separation escalating – a chaotic new chapter unfolds.

Panting, heart racing, every second seems foreign. New faces, scared voices –  shivering, you search for the hand you used to hold. 

Welcome to college!

The roller coaster of life has just begun, you’ve been pulled out of your comfort zone, pushed into the deeper water. You don’t know how to swim, but you’re ready to challenge the unknown because you’ll do anything to survive, to breathe and to prove that you can.

Diving into nostalgia – as children we always wished to grow up sooner, all we dreamt about were the fancy cars, a home with glass ceilings, a room dedicated to expensive shoes and a wardrobe that could never go out of style, casually skipping the crucial part of facing reality and growing up – we try to fly when we are only caterpillars.
The distance from home makes you feel torn,
craving the feeling of home. You want to scream and shout till your lungs explode, but secretly you know this is a part of growing up, the truth you need to face head on, a phase to the final goal.
Craving human interaction, the courage in you builds, you convince yourself that saying “hello” can do no harm, an admired stranger is now your friend. Through the dark night, as cards are distributed, a bond is ignited, getting stronger with each struggle shared – from JEE to shifting from another country, the loneliness subsides. There is no end to the stories, the difference intrigues you and the similarity seems haunting. Living in the details of every story, you let yourself breathe, the mask slides away, you finally break free to trust.
Every boring lecture suddenly seems to come to life, you’re not alone anymore, from wars on Marvel vs DC to Friends vs How I met your mother, you find your solace.
Just as you learn to claw your way out on your own, a simple call from home takes you back, as you try to push back your tears you can’t help but find yourself let go, your mom’s worry and your dad’s voice breaks through the multiple walls you’ve built up, all with just one call.
As your friend circle widens, the blow of missing home begins to soften, the polaroids collect, you heal with every impulsive plan, you realize you’re not in this alone, they are your ticket and you find a way home after all.
Friends aren’t just the people you call to ask to ‘refer’ to homework from, not just the people who make every yawn in class disperse, they are the people that take you in, who welcome you home not to play video games but just to give you a meal that is home cooked, people who lay a blanket over your cold body after you’ve passed out on your laptop whilst working, people who study your every frown and habit, a new family of your own.
They rope you out, you finally escape the depth that once swallowed you. Every spontaneous plan which leads you wandering through the night, blissfully lost in the dark you’re not scared to explore, even the shadow of your partners in crime is assuring. The breathlessness after trekking, the experience of good food, the embarrassing falls and the dreadful traumas cement into you a bond you least expected, you’ve returned home.
From fighting your sibling to missing their every tantrum, from staying up to scroll on instagram to staying up completing assignments, from calling your mom to ask her to guide you on washing your clothes to calling her just to hear the calm in her voice, adulthood starts to settle in.
The wistful restlessness that once took control of you now reminds you – you’re no longer at an impasse, the hazy bigger picture is clearer now- you’re stepping closer to your dream. Friends turned family, memories binding, maturity soars, as the comfort of the unfamiliarity wraps around you, realization strikes – your book has just begun – home away from home.

As the holidays draw near, you run the first chance you get, the routine begins – as if you never left, the peace of every moment resonates with you, but the second the dreadful hour draws near to bid goodbye, you think you’ll be afraid to let go, but you turn, smile, for you know, family awaits on the other side.

Sharlene

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