As the countdown to my semester abroad dwindles (3 days to departure), I am faced with premature homesickness. I will miss my city something fierce. The three years I have spent in Marquette have been exponentially more significant than my 18 years in Appleton. In these three years I have developed relationships that are completely incomparable, both to people and places. I have already missed out on the first week of classes, arguably the best part of the year. As the students return, the heart of Marquette returns. The city comes alive as freshmen explore their new home, sophomores and juniors reconnect with dear friends, and seniors gaze over their new kingdom. I am a senior this year, and my kingdom will persist without me.
In congruence with past years, this week would be filled with lounging on the beach, hiking between classes, and cliff jumping into Superior’s icy waters. The pressures of school have not yet set in, and the entire city it seems is at ease. Marquette is sort of special that way, there is almost an island mentality. That “life is good” vibe rings throughout the city, particularly at this time of year. I have done so much looking forward to my time abroad, so much picturing myself in Peru, that it hadn’t crossed my mind to picture Marquette without me.
My love affair with Marquette goes beyond school, beyond friends, beyond home, it’s my life. I built my life there. Every piece of my life before I moved to Marquette was built for me. Appleton is where I grew up, it is my home, but I don’t have a life there.
Right now in Marquette, I might be finishing up some homework, maybe watching a show on Netflix and getting ready for school tomorrow. I might also be sleeping under the stars, listening to the waves crash on the shore, or sitting around a fire with my closest friends on top of Hogback Mountain. Someone would probably have a guitar, and I might be singing. There would be a PBR can in each hand and dirt on every face. Other students would be coming out of the trees following the sound of a good time being had. We’d introduce ourselves and new relationships would begin to form. I’d look up to the stars and use them to align myself to face North, as I often do to remind myself of my place and size in the universe. And in the morning I would wake up and drive those 5 minutes on CR 550 back to Marquette, shower the night off and head to class.
That’s my school, that’s my city, that’s my life. Though my excitement for the next few months is ample, I can’t help but lament missing out on these first few weeks of class. I’ve never done well with change, and I imagine there will be significant differences when I return.
Since leaving the last place I held as dear as Marquette, a summer camp less than two hours north of Appleton, I’ve found myself in somewhat of a rut. I have trouble moving forward. I don’t like change, I don’t like leaving, and I especially don’t like goodbyes. It’s strange to say goodbye after spending every minute with the same 20 people for three months straight. Sleeping in little huts and living 40 feet from your best friend’s front door. It’s hard to leave.
It was even harder for me to go back after leaving. I visited for three days and felt my presence being forgotten in a painful, remorseful way. It was hard to understand that camp had evolved without me, just as I without it. Leaving Marquette brings about a fear of this same pain when I return. Will I fit in? Will I have to find my place again among all the people I love? Will I remember Marquette? Will Marquette remember me? Until recently, I hadn’t considered that I may need to adjust to life in Marquette all over again. I’m not good at adjusting.
Life, though, must go on and I can’t allow fear of change to hold me back from doing things I love, like traveling. The loving mentality of the people of Marquette is not likely to change soon, and I take solace in returning to this place in winter. There are things that will be different, no doubt, but I resolve to take them with a grain of salt. My own stubbornness and resilience to change is a battle I’ve fought to death. It’s time for me to grow up and be comfortable with the world evolving around me. Things must change to allow space for personal growth. It’s important to miss things in order to sufficiently appreciate them. But Marquette, don’t miss me too much.