…and this room holds more laughter and more memories than I ever expected a year ago.
My senior year of college was spent living in a studio apartment directly across the street from my beautiful university. I lived in the basement of a little brick home, with a nice big porch and two doors, even though I only used one. When I first moved in, it was just a cute little apartment, with walls I adorned in photographs and paint chips, but seemingly just that: an apartment. I never expected that one big room to become a home, not only for me, but for so many others.
When I first made the decision to live alone, I was a bit wary. College experiences always include roommates and the idea that my senior year would be spent in a room by myself was a bit terrifying. I did not want to feel constantly alone, I feared that the year wouldn’t be all it could have been because I was living by myself. Boy, have I ever been so wrong.
500 High B, while a house, was so much more than that. It was the stop people made on their way home for a glass of water or the use of a toilet. It was the porch that friends took naps on or the driveway that friends rode my bike up and down. 500 High B was the place where others came to get away from their world – a place of constant comfort, a place of peace that never was quiet and peaceful because not much time could go by before there was another knock on the door and another smiling face ready to come in.
You see, living by myself was not living on my own. My home was full of life, of laughter, of crafting and movie nights and multitudes of friends curled up on couches. My home was full of breakfasts and dinners and glasses of wine and mugs of ice cream. My home saw the beginning of beautiful friendships, and my home saw the beginning of tears and heartbreaks. There is no way to count the number of times there would be a knock on my door to find a friend on the other side, just wanting my company. There is no way to count the tears that were shed in my living room, by me, by others, in sadness and broken heartedness and in joy and laughter so hard that it became silent. There is no way to count the number of lives grown closer to the Lord through small group, there is no way to count the number of mugs of coffee drank, chocolate chip cookies eaten, or sarcastic comments made. There is no way to count the number of times people called dibs on my beanbag or the number of times naps were taken in my bed by people that weren’t me.
My senior year of college brought me more growth and more confidence than the previous three years combined. My senior year threw me out of comfort zone, as I dropped education, found a new career path, got more involved in some organizations and stepped back from others, and as dozens of beautiful souls walked into my life unexpectedly and changed me. My senior year made me stronger than I ever was before, and knowing I had a safe solace in 500 High B made me know that home was truly home.
About a week and a half ago, I drove through Farmville and purposely drove down High Street to see my beloved university. As I passed 500 High, I stopped to get a good look at my home. I saw those two doors and I saw that window, and through that window, I saw a light on. In that moment, I realized my time in that beautiful place was over. While 500 High B will always be my home, it no longer belongs to me – it belongs to another girl, a girl who will hopefully make it her home over the next 12 months. But in that moment, I also realized that the reason 500 High B became my home was not the room itself. The reason 500 High B became my home is the memories that were created there, is the friendships that were built there.
500 High B became my home because of the beauty of my senior year. Senior year was hard, senior year challenged me more than I would have asked for and senior year was nothing like I had expected. But senior year became the definition of my college experience because I had a home – not only in this room, but with the friendships I had by my side and the university that I continued to fall in love with right across the street. And while I’m convinced my friends were more upset when they said goodbye to my apartment than when they said goodbye to me, I know that my home did nothing but make me grateful and make me thankful for the life-long friendships that will last much longer than my 12-month lease ever could. I may have gotten to live alone, but I shared that home with my friends – rather, my family.