Senior Moments: Finding a Home

In some ways, this past summer has felt like my last real one. Itís been my last summer to officially be a kid, to be eligible for library summer reading programs and to end with me waking up at 6:30 in the morning on some mid-August day with an excitement to go to school that I know wonít last the entire school year. Obviously, I know graduating high school and turning 18 doesnít mean the end of summers altogether, but it does kind of feel like the end of Slip ĎN Slides that span our entire backyard, melting popsicles that turn my fingers blue and numb, and the excitement of finding that school supplies list already printed and waiting for me at the cardboard stand in the middle of a Target aisle.

At this time next year, I wonít be picking out a plethora of subject-corresponding colored folders or locker decorations, but rather, sorting through each article of clothing and every book and trinket, deciding what I need for my first semester as a college student. Through the entire process of taking in-person and virtual college tours, Iíve marveled at how quickly Iíve arrived at this point. It feels too soon ó like I blinked somewhere after arriving at high school orientation my freshman year and somehow ended up here. It feels like a weird balance between knowing itís time for nearly-adult me to make itineraries and decisions, while the far more kiddish part of me just wants to read books and make flower crowns, clawing my way back to those 10-year-old fairy garden summers.

I think the strangest part of thinking into the future is that in a year, I will have to change the standard by which I measure my idea of home. After a childhood divided between four different states, Iíve always struggled for an answer when people ask me where Iím from. Do I say the place Iíve lived the longest? The one where I was born? My favorite? All of those places were home to me in different ways. One of my favorite things Iíve learned from living in lots of different places is that there is no one way to be at home somewhere. Iíll never be at home in Southeast Missouri in the same way some of my friends are, whose claim on this place stretches back generations. At the same time, theyíll never see their home with new eyes or know what itís like to make a new space here to fit in with the preexisting ones. Nonetheless, it is home to both of us.

Up until now, my home has always been where the rest of my family is. When my parents moved us from state to state, each place became my home, not necessarily because I lived there, but because they did. Going to college in a year, my home will be determined by me alone for the very first time. I donít quite know if thatís scary or exciting or a little bit of both.

I may be a little uncertain, very indecisive and extremely nostalgic for the grade-school girl I used to be, but I am ready for change. Iím excited to go somewhere else and test the waters of being on my own. Iím curious to see what Iím capable of, and if thatís a little scary, then so be it.

Mia Timlin is a senior at Notre Dame Regional High School. She's lived in Cape Girardeau for five years and loves reading, dancing, watching movies and listening to the Beatles.