The concept of home is a funny thing. Until last fall if you had asked me about my home I would have told you that I was from Central Arkansas. I would’ve told you that I lived in a large, red brick house with my parents and my eighteen-year-old brother, Dylan. I might’ve told you about my cats (eight in total), my dog and the little green frogs that stick on the windows in the summertime.
Now as I sit looking at my calendar reading that, somehow, I have departed this week for Iceland to begin my semester at HUE, my answer has changed. I don’t feel myself holding on to my twelve-year-old self’s decision to paint my walls with bright green stripes or to the big red curtains at the back of my house that look like they belong on a stage. I doubt I will yearn for couch cushions ripped by kitten claws or the endless supply of Diet Coke that always seems to inhabit my refrigerator.
I find myself clinging to Harding with all of my might. I find myself pining already for the click-clack of my boot heels against the brick walkway traversing the front lawn as orange and yellow leaves fall about me, the constant fear of being struck by a passing long-boarder outside of the Student Center and the comfort that comes with knowing Mrs. Norma will greet me on days I choose to suffer through the 12 o’clock lunch rush to the caf. Already I miss the small oddities of Harding; our uncanny obsession with “hammock-ing” (I’ve still never been in one), our collective love of Ben Rector and the rejoicing that ensues when Aramark blesses us with chicken nuggets. Never in my life have I felt more at peace in such an odd and busy place. Amidst all of the noise and the bustle of a small-town college campus I have found comfort and serenity.
This is no thanks, however, to some breakthrough in architecture that has made me fall in love with this campus or to how aurally pleasing the chime of the clock in the afternoon may be, but thanks to each of the souls I’ve met during my time at Harding. No matter how much or how little impact any of you have had on my life, you’ve helped build my new home and for that, I am so grateful.
The home I have built out of the students and faculty of Harding University has been such a refuge to me that now I find it near impossible to say goodbye. But I have to. When I arrive back in Arkansas, I’ll come home, ready to embrace each of my precious memories once again, even those refusing to wear any shoes but Chacos in the dead of winter.