College does not provide constants. Students move dorms and residencies every year, friends graduate and move on and classes switch every semester.
I might be wrong, but if you ask an incoming college freshman and an incoming college senior where home is, their answers would be quite different.
In these four years, we experience nothing but change.
My blue 2012 Rav-4 that I lovingly named Cecilia and my pink duffel bag have provided consistency amidst all the change.
I have spent too many Friday afternoons packing my pink duffel bag into my hatchback, preparing for the weekend’s unplanned itinerary. Cecilia’s back seat quickly became my traveling library where I would prescribe books to passengers. Her dashboard became my garden of dried flowers from past adventures and sunset cruises to “Ventura Highway” by America.
However, this all changed a few months ago when Cecilia got rear-ended and was deemed un-drivable. Shortly following this, I noticed a tear in my pink duffel bag. Not to be dramatic, but my world was falling apart. Immediately I thought it was a metaphor for something.
When I left Cecilia at the shop, I also left the dried flowers on the dashboard. It was a memento of hope. As long as the flowers were there, Cecilia would be fine.
In my time away from the steering wheel, I was forced to surrender. Learning how to be a passenger can be a difficult thing when you’re always sitting in the driver’s seat.
The things that we think are constants can change in a matter of seconds.
I realized the things that I thought were constants, my car, and my duffel bag were never really that at all. Home was not my car or my duffel bag. Home was in the people who filled the seats and the stories I collected in the side pockets along the way.
Objects and things may furnish a home, but they are not what makes the space a home. A true home is rooted in our memory and affinity for the stories we create.
As things continue to change around us, some people may not have discovered their home yet and that is okay. It’s easy to sit in the driver’s seat without looking in the rearview mirror, especially when the road ahead seems to be straight, flat and never-ending.
To be honest, right now it does not feel like I have a physical home, perhaps it lies somewhere between school and the city I love and my family an hour away.
Nevertheless, my Cecilia returned on a rainy day in September still holding the dried wildflowers. However, this time I let my friends sit in the driver’s seat.
This year I am sitting in the passenger seat, surrendering the aux to the people behind me, the windows down with my un-brushed hair flying in the wind, the road-hugging us from either side, driving on the edge of possibility to continue going forward or to turn around to the familiar road behind us.
It may not be a constant, and I certainly am not a science student, but Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion must stay in motion.
And for now, that sounds good to me.