I have been waiting to save this story for my last blog post, because I am a believer in things that come full circle.
I didn’t want to go to Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr wanted me to go to them. I don’t know how they found me to be honest. But they did- having sent me about a tree trunks worth of informational flyers and mail, they finally reached out to me using a human being. The admissions ambassador was sweet, and very kind, and seemed interested in me as a person, even if I didn’t decide to come to BMC. We would email back and forth every so often, her usually giving me helpful hints on how to apply and reminding me that it would all work out. I mentioned very briefly that I ran, and she immediately put me into contact with the cross country team, who sent me love and support as I applied for colleges. Realizing that I had a small close knit unit who seemed interested in me attending this far off institution, I decided to give it a chance. So- I looked more into the all-girls school that was smaller than my public high school. It was ranked very highly, seemed to have a good community, and was out of Florida. Check, check, check. I applied and I waited.
I got in.
Jump to April 2013, a miserably cold day in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and an even colder day for me- having just spent the early morning hours flying from Miami to Philadelphia. I arrived later to the campus than expected because the taxi driver had “gotten lost”, and had taken the longest way possible to campus to hike up my bill. Already car sick and dreading the campus tour, I yanked out my overnight bag, and entered the admissions office. I wish I could tell you that the Spring flowers were in bloom, and that the admissions office was warm and nice and it was love at first sight, but it was raining, I was alone, and I was already dreading the next 24 hours. I was realizing how far away PA was from my home town, especially all of my friends who would be staying in state to go to some of the largest schools in the country. I reminded myself that I had gotten a nice scholarship, and that made this school an option for me, and I needed to suck it up and get through it. Plus my parents loved it. Having been college educated themselves, Bryn Mawr had always been a name they had associated with success. So for them I needed to pretend to entertain this as a possibility.
My hosts arrived soon afterwards. First years living in Brecon, they seemed to bring a bit of life into the otherwise empty campus. They huddled me under their shared umbrella, and walked around the campus holding me close, telling me about locations, classes, their experiences, where they were from- all while carefully guiding me around puddles and adjusting themselves to protect me as the rain fell harder. I didn’t think they did it on purpose to impress the admitted student (me), I think they did it because it was their personalities to want to help others. We slowly approached Brecon, and they helped me to their room, where they had built me a makeshift bed. Realizing that I didn’t have much with me in terms of bedding, the two women had reached out to their hall mates and had gotten an extra comforter, a squishy yoga mat to be used as a mattress, an extra sheet, two extra pillows, and a stuffed animal for me to use (just in case).
That night was spent sitting in their room as waves of people came to greet me. It was the most bizarre feeling- like a family member that had been long gone had been returned, and all of the extended family was coming to welcome me back home. It was like everyone knew that someone new was here, and they were happy to have me here, asking me questions, answering the things I brought up, making sure I was comfortable, bringing me things they thought I would need. As the night wore on, my guard lessened and lessened, and I became less afraid of this unfamiliar place. My hosts were with me the entire time, and they made sure that I knew I could be alone if I wanted to be (I didn’t).
The next day I was greeted by another round of students who wanted to know if I wanted to join them for breakfast. The night had brought about another wave of anxiety, so being a bit more shy I agreed, but didn’t do much talking. I think they picked up on that, making sure that I had space to myself but still felt included. At the time I didn’t know how they could pick that up, but I soon realized it was a trait most Bryn Mawr students had. They walked me to the class that I would be sitting in on, promising me that they would come back for me once it was done.
They did. They were on time, and waiting for me when it was over. They were asking me how it was, gossiping about the Professor and lovingly teasing him. The little promises kept made me feel good, and the class itself had seemed interesting. It wasn’t so big and scary and unknown anymore- it seemed a bit more like home. I wanted to feel at home here, and I did as I walked alongside complete strangers laughing at something that had happened days before. If I could melt into this world, I would have done it in a heart beat. Everyone seemed so nice and kind and put together, and here I was- just a nervous little senior who wanted to get out of Florida so badly, but still couldn’t decide if she had it in her to leave home and everything behind.
But would I really be leaving home if BMC became my home?
On the airplane back to Miami I cried. I knew that I only had one choice and I would forever kick myself if I didn’t go to this mysterious place tucked away in the Philadelphia suburbs. I felt that I was leaving one home for another, and I didn’t know if I had it in me to leave my life behind, especially when everyone at home were continuing on together. It was like I was going left, when every one else was going right. Despite my worry, I knew it was the right thing to do.
I can tell you all about the journeys I had, the people I met, and the person I’ve become at Bryn Mawr. I can tell you about the strength I have gained and the independence I’ve accumulated. I can tell you about my accomplishments and my failures, and how this small historically women’s college has shaped the being that I now inhabit, but unfortunately this story is about leaving Miami for Bryn Mawr, and now leaving Bryn Mawr for an even lesser unknown. You see, I’m leaving home again. This time, for the last time. My childhood home still exists in the memories of my mind, and the physical space of my parents, but I know when I leave Bryn Mawr, it will never be the same. Constantly changing with the students who come through it, Bryn Mawr will mesh and mold to their needs. The finality in which I leave is heart breaking- having chosen to leave my homes in the past, I knew I could return, but not now.
With time, I expect the sadness to fade away a bit, but I still expect to look back on Bryn Mawr with fondness and a wish to close my eyes and be back walking alongside complete strangers laughing at something that had happened days before, realizing that I was at the top of the world, crying happy tears in a cramped flight back to Miami, realizing that for the first time I had a home that wanted me long before I had wanted it. In the end, leaving home has never been so hard.