i am glad you're with me, here at the end of all things.

Finals and graduation and my Florida vacation have flown by in a whirlwind, and now my time here, in this chapter of my life, is almost over. Suddenly I find myself standing in the settling dust of May, confused as to how I got to this point and not really sure where to go from here. 

Graduation parties. 
Tears from speeches, Dr. Seuss and photo slideshows. 
Packing my life into boxes and bags.
Tears at the empty walls.

{My grandfather's backyard. Be jealous.}

A last week with my family in Florida.
Tears in anticipation of later tears.
My childhood come to life.
Tears in remembrance of earlier enchantment.

The rest is a blur of panic and joy, exhaustion and happiness, exasperation and love. And probably more tears.

In two days, I am moving to New York City. In two days, I am moving to New York City. I have to keep repeating this to myself, and yet it refuses to sink in. After everything I've done in the last three years—all aimed at reaching this exact moment—now all I can do is wonder if I'm doing the right thing. If I'm following the best path. If it will be worth leaving everything. Leaving the people I love. Leaving my home.

I've been thinking a lot lately about home.

For as long as I can remember, home to me has been lounging on my bedroom's cozy window seat, reading a long book and listening to the crickets chirping at dusk. Home has been a cold September night spent floating in my heated pool, when the steam rises like ghosts and an infinity of stars swallows the sky.

The stars, the stars. I will miss those stars.

Home has been watching trash television with my mom. Stealing my brother's books and arguing against everything he says just because it drives him crazy. Competing with my dad to see which one of us can be weirder. Knowing that there has yet to be a problem my parents couldn't fix with a hug and a sympathetic ear

And then four years ago I moved to another world 30 miles away, which at the time was just about as much separation from home as I could handle. The night before I left for college, I recall sitting in the rocking chair hours after I should have been in bed, memorizing the living room I already knew like my own face and wondering how I'd ever find a place I loved as much as that exact spot. And then something wonderful happened. Life went on. And I lived it. And I met the best people in the world. And everything became routine. And just like that, I had a new home.

Home became laughing in the dorm lobby to ridiculous programs on the Game Show Network. Answering my best friend when she talked in her sleep. Complaining about three hours of class a day when you used to have seven. Hosting Backstreet Boys dance parties in the elevator. Late night runs to IHOP and Steak 'n' Shake and Sylas & Maddy's {always Sylas & Maddy's}. Surrounding myself with people who take me as I am, quirks and sarcasm and moodiness and all.

And yet, despite all this, my old home remained my home. It's just that now I had one more, as well.

It took me a while to realize that I did not have to say goodbye to one home to have another. I could have my cake and eat it, too, and even have a glass of milk to go with it. Home is where I have always belonged, but I discovered I did not have to belong in only one place.

Home has become many things to me over the years. 

Say Yes To The Dress marathons with my roommates. 
Cuddling with a cat who has probably plotted a thousand ways to murder me. 
Starving at midnight after work and eating my way out of the kitchen. 
Rolling my car windows down on a Friday afternoon drive through the countryside.


Waking up at 4 a.m. on a Monday to drunk and screaming British people outside my window.
Surveying the whole world in one epiphanous moment on the top of a mountain in Edinburgh.
Drinking too much wine on a Roman rooftop while marveling at how unexpected life is
Stepping onto American soil after four months away and fighting the desire to kiss the ground I'm standing on.


Above all, no matter where I am, home is the people I don't want to let go.

I don't know if New York will become home to me. In a way, I feel as if it already is. Yet, at the same time, I am digging my heels into the ground and clinging to the familiar as if leaving is the end of all things. Which is ridiculous.

Just because I'm not here does not mean I've left. I can never truly leave a home I love.

And that home can never truly leave me.

And in the chaos of living, that, at least, is a comfort.

So here's to the next chapter. 

Here's to having one more place to belong.

Title quote: The Return of the King

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