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I grew up 2,325 miles from where I live.

 I don’t have that number mem­o­rized. Google told me, after I entered my two home addresses — one in Hillsdale, Michigan and one in Newberg, Oregon. The number popped up along with two warning symbols fol­lowed by yellow text: “This road has tolls,” and “Your des­ti­nation is in a dif­ferent time zone.” It takes about 35 hours of driving, or 12 hours of flying, to make the trip.

That’s a long way, even in our world shrunk by air­planes, cell phones, and the internet. I love Hillsdale College, and I’m glad I made the journey; and yet there is some­thing unnatural about pulling your roots out of the place that they grew, shaking off the dirt, and tossing yourself across the country.

It used to take people five months and the risk of death by dysentery to travel the Oregon Trail (the his­torical one, not the com­puter game). Maybe some “Lord of the Rings” per­spective will help: According to Imgur user “matt­sawizard,” Frodo and Sam walked 1,350 miles to get from the Shire to Mordor. The dis­tance from Newberg to Hillsdale is basi­cally like walking to Mt. Doom — and back again.

In her novel “Daniel Deronda,” George Eliot writes, “A human life, I think, should be well rooted in some spot of a native land, where it may get the love of tender kinship for the face of earth, for the labours men go forth to, for the sounds and accents that haunt it, for whatever will give that early home a familiar unmis­takable dif­ference amidst the future widening of knowledge.” In another novel, “Mill on the Floss,” she con­tinues, “We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it…What novelty is worth that sweet monotony where every­thing is known, and loved because it is known?”

She’s right. There’s nothing like your childhood home to bring sensory mem­ories crowding around you. I remember the rhodo­den­drons, sticky with pollen; the smell of sawdust in a home under con­struction; the tin­gling white bumps on my wrist from the nettles threat­ening our expe­dition up the creek. George Eliot would be proud.

Since the Vic­torian age, other voices have taken up the cry for our childhood homes. One of the most emphatic is Wendell Berry, the nov­elist, essayist, and poet, and the foremost pro­ponent of agrarian localism in America. In 2016, Two Birds Film released a doc­u­mentary called “Look and See” about Berry and his phi­losophy. The trailer flicks through images of bull­dozers and cities, air­planes and iPhones. Berry’s slow, strong, salt-of-the-earth voice speaks his own poetry over the images: “Even while I dreamed I prayed that what I saw there was only fear and no fore­telling, / for I saw the last known land­scape destroyed for the sake / of the objective, the soil blud­geoned, the rock blasted. / Those who had wanted to go home would never get there now.”

Those who had wanted to go home would never get there now. Isn’t that the fear, and the truth, of every college student who goes home for the summer? Home is home, and it is not home. Things have shifted. Restau­rants close, schools move, roads change with never-ending con­struction, people go on with their lives without you, just as you have gone on with your life without them.

Berry sees some­thing true about this world of ours: Pre­serving childhood homes is not high on a developer’s list of pri­or­ities. And maybe that’s a tragedy. But there’s some­thing about life — about growing up — that changes everyone’s childhood home, whether it remains phys­i­cally the same or not. Maybe the imper­cep­tible changes in our homes are com­pounded by the imper­cep­tible changes within us. Edu­cation and expe­rience won’t let your home remain the same.

On May 12, I will graduate. I’ll go back to Newberg. I’ll look and see the things that are familiar and the things that have changed.

And I’ll take these roots of mine and plant them once again.

Ellen Sweet is a senior studying English