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  • Writer's pictureKaitlyn Widener

To Growing Up

My parents are selling my childhood home, and there are some mixed feelings as I help them get prepared to place it on the market. I’ve been grounded by this process, but my mind houses mixed emotions of sadness, longing, and hope. I know it’ll be strange when I walk out the door for the last time when my room is all boxed up, and I can no longer hear my dogs barking in the backyard as I get ready to leave. It’s not a frightening feeling. I know the home I spent the last nineteen years living in will not be forgotten. The memory of my being will be etched in the carvings on the plywood, will be remembered by the holes in the wall even when they’re patched over. The house will go on to a new family, new people where fond memories can be shared from bathing animals in the jet tub in the master bath to playing games in the yard over freshly mowed grass. I know I will miss the familiar drive, the roads, and the streets, names I’ll no longer need to remember. I’ll miss the comfort of pulling into the driveway and seeing my dogs run to the gate upon my arrival. I know I will miss being here, but a piece of me will always be.

My presence will still be climbing over the brick fence with my brother when we couldn’t remember the code to the padlock on the gate. It will be lingering in the yard where I used to sit and read books. It will be singing annoyingly loud in the shower to tunes my parents never liked to listen to. It will be there, still. Even when the house changes hands and a new family graces the very halls I have memorized. It will be laughing with my mother over a dumb joke shared in the living room, watching a classic with my father on the television, and pausing it to go off on a side tangent about something that happened during the war. It will be chasing my dogs through the yard and laughing when they evade its outreached arms. It will be there even when I’m not, and I know recalling the memories of my life in that home will bring it to life once more. I won’t forget the experiences I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned. Memories will be a part of me always, even as I move on to more exciting chapters in my life. The fondness of the place will always linger. I will always have the urge to make that familiar drive home. I suppose that won’t stop until I’ve found where I belong. I have outgrown my childhood home. I understand it’s time to move on, but the sadness lingers as I wonder where has the time gone?

Over spring break, I sat in the “fort” my dad built for us when my brother and I were kids and wrote. I tried to work on potential novels I still want to publish sometime in the future, but my mind kept wondering. I couldn’t focus. I reminisced on sitting in the backyard I used to spend countless hours in as a child. Games of make-believe and adventure have come and gone as I’ve grown and moved to college. I am now located hours away from the place I grew up, and coming back to visit during breaks always sends me down memory lane. It wasn’t even a year ago I was pacing the halls in my high school five minutes down the road, but it feels like it’s been ages. The memories blur and blend as I take on new experiences and friendships in my present, as I learn and yearn for something beyond the small-town life I once lived. I feel those feelings of yearning until I’m making the drive down, until I’ve entered the town I’ve lived in my entire life, and memories come flooding back to me. Then I want to be a small child again, spending recess in the largest playground I’ve ever seen, making smores in the kitchen after a long day at school, having my parents drive me seven minutes to my friend’s house before I had a car. I always wanted to grow up, and now I’d do anything to be a child again. I believe that is why seeing my home being packed up brings out so many emotions. Selling the house I grew up in officially closes that chapter of my life. It just shows that I’m no longer a child.

I know that there is nothing wrong with growing up. Life may get ten times harder and come with unexpected events down the road, but I am ready for those experiences. I want to live. I want to learn and travel and have the life I long to. Going to college and getting out of the small-town mindset only pushed me closer to the individual I want to be. However, I didn’t know that after graduating high school, my life would change pace so quickly. I didn't know that a few years down the road, I’ll see some of the people I grew up with chasing their dreams, getting married, having kids. I didn't know that in just a short period, I’ll be joining generations of go-getters of dream-chasers striving for the life they want to live. As a child, I longed to go, to explore. As an adult, I’ll finally be able to. I may not have known the things I would live to experience as a child, but that does not dissuade me. I am working towards my dreams, and I see them just within my reach.

While I may be saddened about leaving my childhood home, I know better things are awaiting me. In a couple of months, I’ll be done with my first year of college. Next semester, I’m moving into my first apartment. The more milestones I come across, the more excited I am to see where life takes me. That doesn’t mean I’m feeling any less out of place than I was when I started college. When the things you most desire are close to becoming reality, it’s hard waiting for them to manifest. However, I know I don’t need to rush towards my goals. I understand that better now that I’ve realized I’ve grown up faster than I’ve cared to admit. I don’t regret striving towards my passions, but I slowed now that I’ve grown old enough to appreciate the path towards them.

I’ve been so excited to be living the life I want that I have forgotten to take time to appreciate my present. I often did that as a child, daydreamed about my future, and forgot to focus on the people and memories being made in front of me. When I got to college, I decided to step back from pressing towards my goals. I’ve taken time to enjoy my experiences and reflect on them. I adore this new chapter of my life. There is no need to rush to get to the next. There are still things I have yet to figure out, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but that’s part of the fun.

To those who might be facing reservations about things changing in their life, I would like to give a few parting words of encouragement. Life can be tricky, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. I’ve had some things in my life go terribly for me, but I was able to push through. While that might not be applicable for everyone, I do know about facing hardships and how difficult it is to see the purpose of a future when reality is grim and despicable. However, I’ve worked my way out of dark places and am satisfied with where I am now. I am in no way done working towards my dreams, but I can enjoy the fruits of my labor in the meantime. There is just something different about life now that I’ve gained some independence. I am thankful for my childhood, but I’m ready for fresh experiences and new fond memories. The rest of my life will be attributed to the time I spent growing up, so right now is the time I spend continuing to do so.

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