From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV

Losing Sight of the Shore

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.

Anaïs Nin

The night before I left home for college I don’t recall getting much sleep. I had that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach, and even though it was the middle of August, my hands were cold and clammy. As we pulled out of the driveway the following morning in my parents’ minivan, I watched my house, my yard and my town getting farther and farther away. I gripped my pillow and sobbed all 340 miles to Whitewater, Wisconsin.

I thought about a lot of things on the way down and asked myself repeatedly why I hadn’t chosen to attend a university a little closer to home. Was I insane? Why was I choosing to put almost five hours between myself and my family, friends and boyfriend? But I knew this was not the time to reevaluate my decision. I kept telling myself that I was going to Whitewater for the education program, to play soccer, and to “expand my horizons.”

The first few weeks were tough. When I wasn’t at soccer practice I was going through photos and other various mementos with tears rolling down my face. I ran up quite a phone bill that first month.

The whole soccer thing just wasn’t for me, so about a week and a half later, when the rest of the student body moved in, I was anxious to get to know the girls on my floor. I actually felt like I had the upper hand because I had already been away from home for several days. It didn’t take long, and new friendships began to form.

We were all strangers who by chance were put together in the same room, dorm, class and campus. Eventually names became faces, and faces became friends. It’s amazing how much you learn about someone in such a short period of time. I felt closer to some of these people in just three months than people I had known for years.

My first trip home was one I anticipated greatly. I even had a countdown on my door. When the day finally arrived, and I made the long haul back up to Spooner, I remember feeling like I had been splashed in the face with cold water. I guess I don’t really know what I had expected. My family didn’t seem much different, and my bedroom remained untouched. But the whole atmosphere was changed; suddenly I felt like a visitor, and the place where I had spent many years now seemed slightly foreign. I met up with a lot of old friends and attended a high-school football game, but it’s funny how out of place I felt. I stared at the people who I used to talk with on the phone for seemingly never-ending amounts of time, and somehow I did not have a lot to say.

I returned back to school and felt lost. I wasn’t extremely close to my new friends yet, but a lot had changed with my old ones. I was going through the transition. It is a time to let go of the past—being careful not to forget it, but instead focusing on the present and aiming for the future. If I hadn’t gone through the transition I would have missed out on a lot of things. I would have missed out on late-night talks in the middle of the hall, water fights, the hair-dying-gone-bad experience and the infamous pumpkin launch from the fourth-floor window. (No one was hurt, but unfortunately for us, the act was committed just as the RA entered the building.)

As time wore on, I found my trips home were less frequent and made only to catch up with my family or see my boyfriend. I actually missed being at school, that place I had once found so dreadful.

The night my boyfriend and I broke up, the first people I told were the girls that lived on my floor, and when I had finally controlled my tears enough to make a phone call, it was to a girl who lived across campus.

College life is great. Yes, there are a lot of changes as you enter a world of procrastination, cramming and lack of sleep. There are many things to get used to, like living on a floor with sixty girls and twelve shower stalls. But it is a time to grow and become stronger. When the end of my first year came, I found it ironic that I was crying all the way back to Spooner for the summer, for the same reasons I had cried all the way to Whitewater. I didn’t want to leave. But the friends I made will still be there when I return in the fall. They have come into my life for a reason, and I can’t wait to see them again.

Marianne Melcher

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