I’ve been in love before. And, as a result, I’ve had my heart broken before.
Both feelings have always been associated with another person, another living, breathing human being. But recently I’ve realized you can fall in love with places, too. And when the time comes to move on from them, it feels a little too much like a heartbreak.
A few days ago, I drove past my alma mater (God, it’s weird tying that) for the first of what will probably be many times. Every part of me wanted to veer off at that exit, as I’ve done countless times. But I realized something – I’d have nowhere to go. I no longer have an actual, tangible home there. Yet it will always be home to me.
As I forced myself to keep the wheel pointed forward and drove past Exit 160, I promptly burst into tears. In the whole week since graduation I have held myself together rather well, having had only two very small breakdowns.
I’d like to say I know everything will be okay, that I know I’ll find somewhere where I will feel equally at home. But I can’t say that. Nothing compares to college. College pushes you past all points of comfort. It molds you into the beginning of the person you will be forever. It directs you toward a career, and, if you’re lucky, a passion.
The people you meet, the classes you take, the places you venture to – they are forever engraved in you. Nowhere has impacted me more than CSB/SJU, and I doubt any place ever will. It will forever feel as if I left a large portion of my heart on campus, because I did. My heart is scattered all over St. Joe, from the dorms I lived in, to the rugby pitch I practiced on, to the bars I spent Saturday nights at.
I know I’ll never have those scattered pieces wholly back – but even if I had a choice, I wouldn’t choose to reassemble them. Leaving pieces on campus means I had an experience that was worth all of it – the late nights, the adjustment periods, the emotional breakdowns, the pile of student loans. All of those more difficult parts of college were largely overshadowed by the incredible community and home that is CSB/SJU. Because I left pieces of myself there, I know I will always have a home to return to.
My heart breaks a little bit more every time I realize that it actually happened – I graduated. I will never be returning to campus come fall. I will never step on the practice rugby pitch again. I will never pull another all-nighter at the student newspaper. I will never again be a college student.
But, because of my array of experiences over my four years at CSB/SJU, I know I am ready. I am ready to take on the real world. I am ready to leave more pieces of my heart in places yet to be determined. I am ready to call more places home.
And, above all, I am ready to fall in love with the next chapter of life.