People thought I’d been attacked.
It started in the lobby of my dorm and ended on the grass outside my dorm in the pouring rain. I thought I couldn’t breathe as the tears just kept falling down. People asked if I was OK (I was definitely OK based on what they thought had happened), and later I realized that I really was.
I was just homesick.
My parents had sent me a picture of them three enjoying the classic Chilean dish my mom would cook when I was having a hard day. They sat there, smiling around the table. “We miss you, Sofie!” the text read. I knew they did — and maybe that’s what made it harder.
It felt like too much. Five days into the ice cream parties, the late nights laughing, and the warm welcomes, I realized I wasn’t at summer camp anymore. This was real life now, and after walking up that hill after commencement, it hit me. I was going to change, and the people who had grown with me — cried, laughed, and danced with me — weren’t going to experience the four most “transformational” years of my life alongside me.
No, it was going to be those guys and girls who Dr. Arnn made sure I glanced at, by looking to my left and right of course.
Maybe it was the realization that plane tickets home every weekend wasn’t a feasible option. Maybe the bacon at Thursday SAGA breakfasts was finally growing on me.
Or maybe, it was the little post-it note outside my RA’s room that read,
“To love at all is to be vulnerable.”
C.S. Lewis said that. And now, two years later, I’d say that taking those words to heart transformed this little rural farm town into home.
It was the little things at the beginning, like sharing what home was like to a senior girl who took me out to ice cream or the nights when I’d try new things. Swing dancing, for instance, or driving to Coldwater with new friends just to get late night half-off apps and blast music on the way home.
I started dancing with my friends in my dorm lobby when I should’ve been doing homework. I told my RA’s about my hard days — and made sure to tell them about my good ones too. I let people talk to God about me. And when I knew they were, I smiled at the thought that they talked to the one who I’d known was always listening — and always loving.
Eighteen years. That’s the amount of time the people here had missed and the time I felt no one would never understand. But it wasn’t too late. That day at commencement invited each of us to hop onto each other’s paths, and to look back — together — at the years that had made us into who we’d become as we walked up the hill for the first time. It was the start of learning how to really love each other – and God knows I’m still learning.
Sure, home will always be home. I’ll look at photos my family sends me and smile — maybe even shed a few tears.
But as for me, I’ve chosen to engage wholeheartedly with new friendships and to learn how to be a friend. I’ve jumped into the wild opportunities that once seemed foreign to me. I’ve chosen to have hard conversations– and I’ve learned from them too. I’ve taken the invitation to ride into the unexpected joys, journeys that are now pressed onto my heart– I don’t think I’ll forget them.
I’ll probably cry when these Hillsdale people send me pictures once we are apart after this long, wild journey.
And for that, I’ll always be thankful.