A friend and I took a quick overnight trip to Frostburg, Maryland this past weekend, AKA “Home”, to visit a former student of ours.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’m a proud Frostburg State University graduate (c/o 2008). I get a lot of questions as to why; it’s not like it’s a prestigious school or hard to get into, in fact, it’s got a little bit of a reputation as a party school. But I am proud, not only because it makes me the first person in my family to graduate from college, but also because of what that place meant to me.
Frostburg was home for me. I’ve mentioned that my home life wasn’t the best/healthiest when I was growing up and I desperately wanted a way to try and escape all of that. I had two criteria when it came to choosing a college: that it was financially feasible and that it was far enough that my family wouldn’t come and visit me regularly.
After working in high schools for seven years; I’ve learned that those are pretty typical college requirements but for me, it was paramount.
I’m not going to pretend like I wasn’t homesick initially or that I didn’t question my decisions my first semester about going so “far” away. But, I pushed through those and gave that little mountain school a chance. And I’m so happy I did.
Once that initial phase ended, Frostburg became the place I didn’t want to leave and the place I ran back to when it was time to do so.
I’d love to say that my home life improved during my college experience; it didn’t, which made Frostburg even more important. It became a very present constant in my life, no matter what I could head back to school, back to all of my normal routines of going to class, having lunch with friends in the Science building (it sounds weird, I know, but the science building actually had a lot of people that just hung out in it), going to the mall and people watching on weekends (because there was literally nothing else to do on weekends in a small town), and randomly going to Denny’s at 3am (and no we weren’t typically drunk when we did this – most other patrons were though).
Graduation was almost a grieving process for me. That constant was gone, my “Frostburg family” were all headed off in 20 million directions, the freedom I had to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted was also gone.
Most notably; that calm and relaxed feeling I had when I was there; was gone. Living with my family often had me on edge and stressed, and of course, I was back to having every move I made questioned, especially when it came to being out when it was dark outside.
Don’t even get me started.
When Devon and I moved in together four years ago; a lot of that calm and relaxation came back and it was very much needed. It was our home; we’re not going to question each other if we’re out past “curfew” or stress each other out to the point that one of us doesn’t want to come home.
When we moved into our current apartment four years ago, it was with the premise that it wasn’t permanent; it was a stepping stone to us eventually buying our own home and setting down roots somewhere. Our only requirements for our apartment was that we wanted to live together and we wanted it to be relatively close to where we worked (which it was for both of us initially…now…not so much for me); our apartment fit both of those well.
We’ve been talking about purchasing a home after we got married for awhile, and now that we’re in that time it’s been almost a constant conversation.
Initially, we settled on an area that we both loved – it basically has everything either of us needs in like a 2-mile radius, along with great schools, slightly lower cost of living than where we are now, and a good mix of city and suburban feels to it.
A few months ago Devon brought up a relatively good point; the area we are looking at is still just as far from my school, if not farther, especially in traffic. Did I really still want to do all of that commute? Especially when we could just look in another area?
I had that moment of, “yeah…you right”, so I started looking around other areas, including the area we already live in, and areas that would cut my commute significantly.
None of them excited me. Some of them were a lot more expensive than we were looking for, some were set so away from everything, it would take us 20 minutes to get to a grocery store, I’m only kind of “meh” about our current neighborhood, so there is little to no desire to want to stay.
I am a logical and rational person by nature, so I fully understand the logic of making life easier and that it’s “just a house”. But, for me, it’s more than that.
Being back in Frostburg reminded me of that this weekend. I stepped back on that campus, and suddenly…I was home. All of those relaxed and calm feelings came back and in so many ways it felt like I never left.
The neighborhood we originally considered gives me similar feelings already. Devon and I are in that neighborhood randomly from time to time and anytime we are there I get the feeling of, “I could happily live here for the next fifty years”. Logic made me lose sight of how important that feeling is to me.
So, I told Devon this weekend, we’re still going with the initial plan; I need wherever we live to feel like home. I know for so many people, location doesn’t matter, but I already feel that sense of calm and relaxation in this neighborhood, so that’s what I need to go with.
If it means that I eventually change schools to somewhere closer to where I live…so be it. Jobs can be temporary, I want my house to be permanent. I love the school I work for, but I also know that I would easily love another school.
With that, we are beginning a bit of more of a serious house-hunt in the area we want. Ultimately, we don’t want to move until the summer because we are people who will never want to do this during the school year, but we also know this isn’t a quick process, so we’re starting to get all of the financial aspects done and together so that when we find the house we love we can move on it.
Since our location is pretty set, I also quietly put feelers out there to people I know in that area that if anything comes up, give me a call. Again, I’m not in any hurry to leave, but it doesn’t hurt to see what’s out there.
Sometimes 24 hours in the place you love is all you need to bring back the perspective you were missing.