When I was growing up in Oyster Bay, I considered home the place you loved just enough to say goodbye. I considered sunny front porches, small high schools, Memorial Day parades and pajamas-inside-out snow day rituals fine, for a small life, for a life where high school was easy and everything felt right already. Leaving was never a question (even though it was more leaving, with a lowercase l, because you always come back to find out you're not a part of this place anymore but you haven't missed much), an college gave me an open road and some grand image of what I could become: like so many other freshmen awkwardly forming friendships and throwing around their ideas of the future that fall, I envisioned important careers, incredible eye-opening people, and the endless late-night spontaneous happy moments that would dot the next four years of my life. And even though I did choose a college with even tinier, almost less expansive demographics than my sleepy hometown, I found those important people, unearthed those magical quiet moments you find in a library or a newspaper office or a walk in the dead of winter and strung them like pearls. Geneseo was the first place where I had rooms to decorate all by myself, a schedule and social circle and a calendar of events tailored to my liking, and through sophomore and junior year I realized home wasn't a place to escape from, it wasn't a place separate from real life - it was here under my feet, waiting patiently for me to notice.
And has it followed me to France, I wonder? After a whirlwind February break (Paris, Amsterdam, London, and a 48-hour intestinal bug all in a week) it felt really, really nice to throw myself down on a chair in Montpellier's airport to wait for the bus to the tram station and be someplace both familliar and still exciting. I won't be tearing up my return plane ticket and asking my parents to ship my things to my 34000 address (The french consulate, my family, my wallet, etc. probably wouldn't support this decision anyway - but that crepe-maker in Paris who suggested I live with him would be totally pumped) but there is no way I will ever, ever forget this place.