Being from New Jersey, I thought I knew what winter was. Everyone had warned me about the brutal Indiana winters, but I pushed off their warnings, naively thinking I was prepared. As spring break approached and plans started to be made, escaping the grey sky and strong wind quickly became my top priority. The winter felt like it had been endless. To think, only a few months earlier I had been complaining about the unrelenting heat.
I was so excited by the prospect of escaping the cold that I detailed all of my spring break plans to my family. Everyone, including myself, was under the impression I would be spending a week under the blazing Florida sun, not in what-do-you-even-do-in-rainy-chilly-March New Jersey. But when the time came to commit to the trip, I just couldn’t do it.
Usually my indecisiveness wouldn’t come as a surprise to me, but this time it did. Who wouldn’t want to go to Florida with their friends? And after yearning for some real spring weather for weeks, why in the world was I turning down such a fun opportunity? The answer is a bit complicated, but at the root of it all was the simple fact that I missed my sisters.
I have two younger sisters, Arabella and Kelsey, both of whom have the same, impeccable talent of simultaneously managing to irritate me and make me laugh. Arabella is the classic middle child — refusing to take part in any activity or hobby that I ever remotely showed interest in. Though, we do bond over our love of Taylor Swift and reading rom-coms. Kelsey, on the other hand, is more similar to me. We have the same sense of style and affinity for iconic movie soundtracks, especially “Pitch Perfect” and “Mamma Mia.” And then there’s me.
When the question of “which sibling energy do you give off?” comes up in conversation, most people will usually guess right that I’m the eldest. This is largely due to the fact that I have the most stereotypical oldest sister personality there could possibly be. I’m known to be a planner, stressed out over nothing, hold myself to high standards, scared to drive and concerned with the well being of others. Growing up, half of my identity was the fact that I was the oldest, and as much as having my sisters copy my every move annoyed me at times, I took my job as their role model very seriously.
Now, we’re 700 miles apart. I can hear about their drama, but I can’t give them a hug when they need one. I can hear about their day, but I’m not really sure I’m getting the full truth. Now we’re 700 miles apart, and I’m not really sure I was as ready for that as I thought.
When considering where to go to school, I didn’t think too much about distance from home. My main concerns were about the university’s community, values and tradition. I’ve always spent a lot of time with my family, but I’ve also always been very independent. And even though I’m from New Jersey, my Dad’s side of the family is all in Chicago. I thought this would allow for a good mix of home and independence, but again, just like with the midwest winters, I was naive to think that. Even though college has been so much fun, and I honestly couldn’t ask for better friends or a better time, homesickness has still been very real. Sometimes, all I want is a hug from my mom, to walk into my sister’s room and annoy her or to enjoy a home cooked meal around the dinner table.
As cliché as it sounds, this time apart from my family has allowed me to appreciate our time together even more. Especially as the three of us grow up, I’ve noticed that we get along even better. So no, I’m not upset that I chose to go home. My time with my family has brought many smiles, good food and rejuvenation — everything spring break is supposed to bring.
My expectations for college life aren’t always what I experience. Did I see myself missing my family as much as I do? Definitely not. Being separated has been hard, but in the end I know that they still have each other, they still have me, and I still have them, even if we’re 700 miles apart. It makes our time together more meaningful and reminds me to never take a second together for granted.
The other day, the sun even managed to peek through the clouds. I guess I got my dose of sunshine after all.