Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.
Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.

I didn’t really come to notice how strongly college had affected me until I returned home. My personality, my body and everything that was distinctly “me” did not so much change as it did adapt. These adaptations had been subtle until brought under the stark light of home.

I went home, expecting nothing to have changed — my high school would still be there, the same friends would be around to call up, same roads to drive with the same sights to see.

And in a lot of ways home was precisely that. Many of my friends who had gone to the local junior college still lived in town with their parents. Our catching-up conversations had a sameness to them.

But there wasn’t a lot to talk about once we’d brought each other up to speed.

There were still kids tethered to the routine of class bells and lunch breaks who would pause to call out my name as I passed by.

To be fair, it’s not like there was anything terribly new that could happen in my small town over a year’s time.

However, “home,” as I am increasingly begrudged to call it, was not quite timeless. While I have adapted, home has also changed. There are new buildings, new paved roads and several people who have changed residences or moved out of town altogether.

Of my few friends who remained in town, most have new friends or relationships that need their attention more than I do. More often than not, I found myself just killing time (in the case of summer, temporal genocide).

But all the fun things I had liked to do back in high school are tired and sad now. The mini-golf course had one less hole from poor maintenance, the roads past the wineries were worn and cracked, and the old sports field had knee-length grass.

As for my family, my college experience has taught me that I am more like my father than I’d care to admit. It’s odd to find that I rarely talk to the man when I’m at home, yet find quite a few likenesses of him in myself at college. I could be just another headcase for the Freuds in the psych department, but I find my little phenomenon quite quaint.

“Home” will always be here for me. But halfway through my college education, I find there are things I want to take care of before deciding where the next place I call home will be. If home is where the heart is, then by all means, for now, I’m making mine UCSC.