Without Roots, We Will Never Grow Wings

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Max Levy, Former Editor

If there is one thing that has not changed since I graduated high school and left for college, it is the pure euphoric excitement and longing that I feel for winter break. In college, the concept of winter break really is not any different than it was in high school, at least not for me. It means a short escape from the strains of academia. It means the holidays. It means spending some quality time with family. Perhaps most importantly, it means a home cooked meal and a bed with enough width to sleep in without falling off a few times a night. At the beginning of the semester, almost an entire month off of school with no academic responsibilities seemed like a fictional idea – something that may never become reality. Yet, here I am, thinking about packing up a bag and leaving the dorm room lifestyle for a little while. Fortunately for me, in a matter of hours I will be finished with my first semester of college and getting ready to head back for some much needed rest and relaxation.

If there is one thing that has changed since I graduated high school and left for college, it is where exactly I am headed for winter break. Sure, when my parents pick me up in Boulder, they will turn back in the direction of a town called Woodland Park, Colorado – in fact, if you are reading this article, there is a good chance that you have heard of it. After a few hours of driving, making some small talk about how the semester went and what I want to do over the break, we will pull into the driveway of the house that I lived in for most of my childhood. I will get out of the car and set my feet on the ground, absorbing familiarity like I did when I came home for my birthday a few months back. And like a few months ago, a pit might sneak into my stomach. A sense of uneasiness will nudge me, not as if I am in my hometown, but as if I just landed on another planet. My eyes will recognize my house, but my heart will again ask where exactly it is that I have arrived.

When I left for college back in August, I left my home, but when I return for winter break, I will be returning to someplace entirely different. I never doubted that college would change me. What I did not expect was for my sense of belongingness to be flipped on its side. I suppose I am still learning what it is like to leave the only place you have ever truly known. More importantly, I am learning what it is like to be an adult, experience independence, live in a brand new town, and meet people who I will never run into at Meadow Wood Park or The Hungry Bear. Growing and maturing feels beautiful, but I still have a long way to go. There is much that I have yet to learn about myself and about who I want to become during my college experience.

I am thankful for the opportunity to come back to Woodland Park and feel a little nostalgia and a little discomfort, because I have come to realize while writing this article that these feelings are only going to benefit me. Coming back reminds me of who I was before I left, and inspires me to take advantage of the opportunity to become something better than I was a year ago, a month ago, even a day ago. Where I call my home will change in my life – it already has – but where I grew up will never change. Woodland Park grew me, and returning to my roots can be the best reminder of where my new wings can take me.