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December 26, 2012
College Voices
Homecoming - by Michela Hunter
by College Voices
Michela Hunter
Freshman, Brigham Young University

I’m not the most enthusiastic flier when it comes to traveling. Airplanes are claustrophobic; turbulence freaks me out; and for some reason they stopped giving out those complimentary free packets of salted peanuts, which were one of the only things I looked forward to on flights. All of this combined with my apprehensions about flying makes airplanes something I’d generally rather avoid; however, there are those few times where flying doesn’t seem so bad.

Like last week. Where normally I’d be dragging my feet, only too happy to stay on the ground, this time I was restless while waiting at the gate, periodically checking the time on my phone and impatiently tapping my feet—I really just wanted to get on board. The sooner we left, the sooner I’d be on my way home for the first time since August.

I sat with my face squashed against the window for twenty minutes after the pilot announced that we were beginning our descent, trying to see something—anything—in the clusters of lights that looked familiar. I was looking for the Washington monument, or maybe the DC temple—something that would tell me we actually were back in DC. I couldn’t see anything in particular, of course, but that didn’t mean I didn’t feel more connected to those clusters of lights than I did to the cold, unfamiliar clusters of lights in Utah. I was finally home!

I can’t say I haven’t been jealous of my friends, both at BYU and back home, who live close enough to be able to drive home for Thanksgiving or just for a weekend. The past semester has flown by, but it seems to have comprised an eternity since I was last home with my family. It’s hard to believe how much a place can change in such a short time.

For starters, my youngest sister moved into my old room and painted it a vibrant orange that scorches the eyes (and suits her personality perfectly). Our basement has been transformed into a seminary classroom as my dad has begun teaching seminary at our home instead of at the church building. And my parents, though relatively the same, have decided that as far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as curfew. Being an adult most definitely has its perks.

Some things, of course, never change. On Wednesday I was reunited with Anna, Katherine, and Melissa, who were my closest friends growing up. We recounted tales of our adventures to one another, our four different personalities contrasting as always (which only underscores the fact that we’ve been able to remain friends as long as we have).

It’s wonderful to be home, lovely to see my family and the friends I’ve missed, but all the same, it’s bizarre—bizarre to revisit the places I used to frequent and see the people I used to see. Although four months really isn’t a long time, I feel like those four months have turned me into a completely different person as well.

This feeling was heightened by the fact that this past week I was invited to attend an alumni-teacher holiday gathering at my high school. I think it had something to do with the fact that it’s Dominion’s ten-year anniversary this coming year; I mainly went to see old teachers and friends.

And though it was great to see everyone, it was surreal being back there, talking to people who were once my fellow students and noticing the changes (in my demeanor at least, if not in theirs as well). It’s sad to say but after about fifteen minutes I’d had more than my fill of reunion. I said hi to the teachers I was closest to, made plans to hang out with the people I was still friends with, was happy to see them, and that was that.

I guess that could just have been my high school shy-girl self resurfacing. But when I think back on the four years I spent in high school, it makes sense. Why would I ever want to go back to that? High school was good and I made lots of friends, some of whom I know will be with me for the rest of my life; but if I were honest with myself, I really wouldn’t want to go through those growing pains all over again.

In some ways it makes me sad to realize how completely I’ve moved on—from high school, from Young Women, from just about everything that I loved about being a teenager. I thought I would miss all of those things when I graduated and left home. But for the most part, it’s a relief—relief that I’ve moved on, relief that I’m older and wiser, relief to have had closure from that awkward between-chapters-in-life stage I felt all the past summer.

Until now, I hadn’t realized how easy it is to get caught up in the past, the way things used to be; to wish for things to stay the same and fear what is to come. I hadn’t even thought about what a wonderful thing change can be and how much better off we are if we allow it to shape our lives—if we just run with it, having faith that in the long run, we will be better, wiser, or stronger for having weathered it. I will probably always be attached to my past. But I won't ever regret moving forward to the future.

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