Home Again: Letting Loose and Letting Go

It’s always bliss to be home.

I started counting down even before finishing my final exams, distracted by thoughts of home while dealing with a heavy workload down the stretch. I had never missed home like this before, and home had never felt so different before.

In the past, whenever I returned from short trips, or even after a normal school day, my parents would bombard me with questions about my experiences. However, this time on the way to our Beijing home from the airport, mom and dad were talking to each other most of the time, recounting every single detail of their day, from the time they got up to the bus my dad took. Having been away for four months for my sophomore year at Yale, I had a lot to share.  But it seemed that we all knew that with my limited time at home, it was impossible to tell every story I have.

Over the holiday break, it suddenly dawned on me that my homecoming may have added to my parents’ daily burden. They washed my clothes, cooked me dinners (they wouldn’t cook seriously if I were away) and complained about my laziness at home. Although they had been doing all these for me for the first 18 years of my life and perhaps are still happy to attend to my needs, somehow it feels different now that I have gotten used to taking care of my everyday needs while living on American university campus – thousands of miles away from home.

The return to my high school felt somewhat strange as well.

Just a year ago I was very eager to be back, but now I had forgotten what high school really felt like. When I was preparing for a talk about college admissions, I worried that I wouldn’t articulate my ideas well enough and get my points across to high school students. It took me quite a while to recall my own high school mindset, or the high school students’ general concerns and interests.

For me, the troubles of a year and a half ago somehow felt like a century away from college. This feeling, I guess, is quite common among college students after freshman year.

Feelings for old friends also evolved, as we are separated by distance and can only meet up for a few hours every year. These precious hours are always happy, with the exchange of gossips, the stories of our new lives as well as the recounting of old memories. But every time after we bid farewell, we would consciously realize that the next reunion would be at least half a year away. If someone had a packed summer schedule, then we would have to wait for another full year.

For college students like us, the meaning of friendship has definitely evolved from high school. Although we still share a lot in common, we have embarked on different paths, and become new persons that old friends cannot fully recognize. This divergence is inevitable, so we either consciously or unconsciously ask ourselves: can we hold on to all our friends?

In fact, the idea of “holding on” to the once-familiar things at home has made me feel a bit uneasy. Without a doubt, I should connect with the familiar, but now that things have changed, holding on to what I used to have has become a challenge. This challenge, I believe, exists for all college students, and dealing with it is another part of growing up.

Yifu, Beijing

Yifu Dong

You can contact Yifu Dong at dongyifu@gmail.com.