I’m at the airport right now waiting for my plane to board and to leave Silicon Valley for the next sixth months. With a week and a day not in classes total in that time, I will have effectively lived a combined nine months at college, lived nine months in Chicago.
When I first came back to where I lived the first eighteen years of my life for Thanksgiving, I wrote about how much home felt familiar but distant. I didn’t quite understand why or how I felt suddenly so detached from a world I thought I was so connected with, even if I may have disliked certain aspects. Coming back for just a few days, I thought I would be able to seemingly predict the type of experience I’d have when I came back for an extended time.
Yet, it wasn’t at all what I had expected, and fortunately, everything I could not have imagined how surprisingly normal it was.
The single thing I missed the most coming back home was just my room. I love my roommate and I love my dorm, but there’s just something about being in a space you’ve grown with and put together for years. It was really relaxing to just be in that space, for an absurd amount of time. This naturally leads to the fact that I was able to consistently get 9–10 hours of sleep for the first time in over three months, which not only rejuvenated me but allowed me to really dream for what seems like the first time in years. No alarm to wake me, no significant obligations, no requirement to leave my bed. If there was anything I didn’t realize I would appreciate so much is to just have a space of my own I can return to, a privilege I am aware of and grateful to have.
Compared to Thanksgiving, the increase in face time I spent with family was great. I got to have long conversations about how my quarter went, recapped on the recent political stories (my goodness), and just spent time together. Of course, I spent the most time with our dog, hanging out with him daily and just taking naps together. His presence is the one that is really hard for me to shake not having around because he’s always at home and wants to spend time with whoever has the energy to play with him.
The one thing I did not anticipate appreciating so much over the course of this break was that I could dictate who I wanted to see and spend time with. To catch up with local friends from high school and beyond for hours upon hours on end, without mutual stress from school, was amazing. It really did give me a ton of life to see the people I care about doing incredible things and learning about themselves in a new environment. I didn’t have to put myself ever in a situation or time to hang out if I wasn’t interested or didn’t have time, and that too was a relief that I didn’t quite grasp until I was no longer obligated by situational relationships from high school. Everyone’s growing and doing their own thing, and with that, it’s just a natural part of life that people just lose touch. That’s a lesson that was initially hard or daunting for me to realize but ultimately proved to be the lesson that allowed me to truly enjoy my break in the way I did.
THE FOOD! I cannot say how much I missed home-cooked meals from my parents and family, or how much I wish I had the insane variety of ethnic foods living in Silicon Valley. From ramen to dosa to tacos to injera, of course, my taste buds truly lived it up this break. It’s not that the food scene is dull in Chicago by any means, but traveling to different areas of the city to get different types of cuisine takes a substantial amount of time that makes it hard to do when classes are in session.
I could go on about driving or catching up on Netflix or so many other things, but ultimately, I did the most important thing to do during the break: rest. I gave myself the time to be bored. I slept in, played music at high volumes in the car, and repeated this over and over again.
But I cannot deny that I missed school. It wasn’t necessarily the workload, but the day to day life, the friends, the random occurrences that only happen when you have the privilege of living near a bunch of other nerdy people your age. These past three weeks haven’t reaffirmed that my home is now Chicago, but that I have two homes in two drastically different parts of the country. I’ve felt just as much at home in my dorm with my roommate and friends as I do back in my actual home in the Bay. The warmth, the conversations, the good vibes all around ultimately are what has remained constant in both places.
I thoroughly enjoyed these past three weeks off the grind, back in the sunshine and good weather, but I think I’m ready to head back home.