Pulling onto the Garden State Parkway over winter break proved to be a different emotional feeling than originally planned.
Being away from my home town for an entire semester has seemed to change my outlook on my all too familiar stomping grounds.
The layout is still the same, the people haven’t changed and most of the businesses that I grew up with are all still there. But pulling into the driveway of my relatives’ house led me to wonder if my home is still really home?
A single semester really doesn’t seem to be that long. Sure it’s full of exams and homework, but to be away from your hometown for a mere three and a half months really doesn’t seem like too much could change.
Granted, it is expected that some ties would be distanced due to me being away, but I never expected to feel like an outcast in a town where I lived my entire life.
Seeing my family included the usual talks of school and life in general. But beyond that, there really was no depth behind any conversations. What does one say to people who they have been away from for a while? Sitting on a couch surrounded by family members poking and nagging questions about my GPA or my classes is expected. But what happened to the everyday talk, the town gossip?
Not only have family ties been distanced, but I expected my high school pals to still be around. I talk to most of them on a semi-regular basis while away at school. The common talks on relationships and dirt from the campuses are the main highlights. But it seemed nearly impossible to organize a get together between friends that I used to spend everyday with. Most of my posse from high school have moved on and found new cliques. Well where did that leave me? Nowhere.
I didn’t know half the kids that are now hanging around my old hangouts. What is there to talk about with complete strangers? How is it possible to form new friendships in a short week or two?
It has become clear that the place I thought I could always count on as being my home now resembles a vacation resort. Walking around my old neighborhood I felt like a tourist. I am still befuddled as to how that is possible.
I sat in New Jersey most of the time thinking about how much I missed St. Augustine. The lame downtown that the campus normally complains about has proved to be a gravitational force.
The whole time I was home I couldn’t really wait to get back to my real home. This new home in which I have established my job, friends, school, and hangout.
Arriving back to my condo I was ready to kiss the asphalt under my parking spot. I think when I left for break, I left my heart in St. Augustine, proving home really is where the heart lives.