Going Away: Stuff Happens

I had wanted to do my first post on the Shelby Knox event/debate watch party that happened a few weeks ago, because I’m super into activism! And so are other people here! Which is awesome! And I will get to that, hopefully this week, but I felt like I should take the time to address the hurricane and how that relates to going away to school.

I’m from Long Island. A long, but scenic eight hour drive from Brockport. A short, relatively cheap one hour flight. But in order for me to go back to my mom’s place, JFK needs to be open. I need to cross more than one bridge into and out of New York City. And when a natural disaster occurs, these are not always options. I, obviously, would not have returned to an island to ride out a hurricane when I was perfectly safe here with some comparatively mild wind and drizzle. But that does not mean I did not experience a brief moment of panic when I realized it wasn’t an option even if I wanted it.

Long Island right now is a giant puddle. I suppose this is what happens when you build suburbs on a pile of rocks you find in the middle of the ocean, but that doesn’t make the photos on Facebook any less striking. It’s so surreal, and quickly becoming creepy, to see my friends’ homes become islands unto themselves, to see places so familiar to me underwater. Even knowing my family is alright, that my house was essentially unaffected, it is still extremely weird that something this huge happened, and I wasn’t there for it.

As somebody who has not been homesick since I left for school, it’s freaky for me to sit here wishing I could go home even though home right now sort of sucks. But I think it’s an important topic to address, and right now, and I feel qualified. I’m not sure how I feel about turning this into a teaching moment, but I’m doing it anyways: I know most people feel like they’re missing important things at home when they go away to school and aren’t really close enough for a day trip, and it’s true. You do miss things. But nobody is going to intentionally exclude you from those things. Even with both the power and phone lines down, my family managed to get in contact with me. 99 percent of the time, the thing you’re missing at home isn’t something as major as this storm and talking to your loved ones will not be so difficult.

When you go away to school, you aren’t excommunicating yourself. You’re allowing yourself to grow. When I talk to my family, they always tell me how much happier I seem. And it’s true. So, yeah, being here while my family is far away during something as huge as this storm was happening was nerve-wracking. But going away for me, overall, has been a ally positive experience.

(And while I’m still in this post, I’d like to say I know there are families who are not as fortunate as mine. I have them on my mind and hope anybody as fortunate as I am will consider donating to a disaster relief fund.)

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