I leave today, I’m packing light: a suitcase, some toiletries
The rolling hills and willow trees of Carolina wait for me
-Benjamin Gibbard, Carolina
When I set foot on Wake Forest’s campus, I knew it was home. It is often difficult for me to recall the details of every important life moment, especially if I didn’t put much stock in the moment at the time. Yet I remember pulling off of Silas Creek Parkway, and seeing the hedges at the entrance to Wake’s campus like it was yesterday. It was the Fall, and the leaves had already begun to fall as my dad and I pulled through the gate and onto the main road into the campus.
Carolina is still home in many ways. It is home insofar as I have deep, sometimes painful nostalgia for it. Nostalgia comes from the Greek meaning an aching for home. I ache to be back in the foothills, to be back when the leaves turn and fall. For a long time, I ached to be back at college, but now that I am in a job I enjoy, in a place I love, I do not covet the thought of being back in the dorms and going to class every morning. Too much has happened in the interim, and I am not the person I was when I was eighteen and stepped foot onto the campus.
Having said that, in many ways, I am more that eighteen-year-old now at thirty-four than I was at twenty-two when I left, or even thirty, when I hit the reset button and chose to fundamentally change who I had become. To all who met me, I was a happy, laid-back person, who had the capacity to find the joy in the littlest things in life. I was more this person than perhaps I gave myself credit for being, though at the time, I considered it quite the facade. Today, I am returning to (or perhaps becoming for the first time) the person I so desperately wanted to be when I was at Wake. As they say, selfishness and self-seeking have slipped away; I have a new outlook on life. I comprehend serenity, and I know peace. For me, North Carolina embodies these promises, and so, one day I will pack my back, to where the rolling hills and willow trees of Carolina wait for me.
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