Ah, Fall Break. Like many universities, Drake schedules a couple days off right after the midterms rush to decompress a little and prepare for the rapid escalation to finals week. And while there’s still a lot of homework and studying to be done, for many students, Fall Break marks an opportunity to simply go home.
So today, I am writing from my home, and my favorite place in the world, St. Louis, Missouri. Since I left to attend Drake, St. Louis has almost taken on this mythical quality for me. Infused with nostalgia and the promise of reuniting with family and friends, everything about the city is perfect. Even driving past the Steak N’ Shake on the way in became an emotional experience for me because it signaled that I was home (and also that they now have fall-inspired shakes).
But honestly, the city is no different than when I lived here full time nor is it any more magical. It’s just that I, like all Drake students, now have a dual identity. Des Moines is my home for so much of the year that I sometimes forget that my life on campus is only a part of who I am. It’s tricky to balance my past and present because when I’m home, it seems nothing in the world could be greater, and while at school, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. And, yes, as it turns out, a couple people have expressed this idea before. There may in fact be an entire book of platitudes about the beauty of home or the reverse “grass is always greener” mentality. Even the great philosophers of our generation, The Counting Crows, remarked how “Don’t it always seem to go/That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” (My apologies to those who do not consider themselves of the same generation as The Counting Crows, and perhaps don’t know even who those mathematically inclined birds are).
The point is, there’s kind of this idealized notion I hold of both places, maybe because in many ways, they are both ideal. And I think that now well into my third year at Drake, I’m finally beginning to understand that I don’t have to pick one place over another. I can love being from St. Louis just as much as I love living in Des Moines. So it may take the rest of my college career, or a lot longer, to become comfortable with this more fluid, dual identity, but I’m confident I’ll get there, knowing St. Louis and Des Moines are always my homes.