I’m home.

Don’t get nervous or disappointed or think, “Oh, we knew it wouldn’t last long.” It’s just Thanksgiving Break. But because of canceled classes and Hailee’s birthday, and despite a University of Alabama vs. University of Tennessee-Chattanooga ticket and a fierce glare from Jane as I threw my laundry in the trunk. I’m home for a whole nine days- four days longer than I’d planned. This is day one. But it feels so, so good.  Fully-stocked pantry, willing-to-pay parents,and a new car aside, my relationship is what makes these visits touch that place in my heart that induces some sort of smile I can’t hide. It’s not a boy, or a friend- nope. It’s my parents.

When I lived here, I was another source of stress. Where was I  and who was I with and was I fed? And my goodness, how were they going to pay for college? I’m sure they still worry; in fact, I know it. But we have college paid for- at least for a few semesters- and I’m proving I’m responsible, and so they worry less. Or they show it less.

And so I come home to this: Let’s just spend time together. Watch a movie with us. Go with me to the store. Do you need any groceries? We miss you. We love you. Goodnight.

It’s an indescribable feeling, that one that comes when you know you’re exactly where you belong, where all of the people around you love you and they’re not going to hurt you. Have you ever been around people, maybe people you’ve just met or don’t really like, and you have this urge to flee into the arms of the people you love? People who know you and adore you and protect you and oh my gosh, I want them right now because these people don’t love me at all, not one little bit. They’re not necessarily mean or hateful or rude, and by golly, they’re actually nice, but they’re not my people. I’ve felt that way a lot at college. Don’t get me wrong- please don’t- I’ve made wonderful friends and I’m not lonely, by any means. but every now and then I just miss feeling unreserved and loved and understood. And that’s what this place gives me. It lets me know I belong somewhere, even if it’s not where I think. It says, no matter where you go and who you meet, we’re always going to be here. We think you’re terrific.

I miss Tuscaloosa, and I miss my friends, and my best friend here is running in the opposite direction, but I’ve got these people. And although I will probably be ready to go home in eight days, I’m loving being loved right now. And I’m loving them right back.


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