Coming Home for Homecoming

Homecoming+2015

Homecoming 2015

Ally Stapleton, Editor in Chief

A little over three years ago, I thought my life was over. As I pulled out of my driveway in Grosse Pointe, Michigan for the last time ever on June 30th, 2012, I truly believed that I was leaving all joy, hope, and contentment behind me. Though a mere three-hour car ride separates Grosse Pointe from Grand Rapids, I was convinced that in driving those 150 miles west, we were stupidly, shortsightedly driving away from all opportunities for happiness, abandoning a place where everything was already perfect for a place where no such perfection or happiness could exist. The gargantuan white moving van that had pulled up to my house a few days earlier seemed to have disassembled not only all of my family’s earthly possessions but also the wonderful life I had constructed for myself in Grosse Pointe.

I’m happy to say that my life did not end when I moved — a new chapter of it simply began. I live in Ada now, and, although it took a long time, I’ve settled into life here. But there’s always something magical about returning to the place I still think of as my home. The happy familiarity of driving down Outer Drive for the millionth time, the tingly excitement of crossing Mack Avenue into Grosse Pointe from Detroit, the bittersweet nostalgia of passing by my old house, the pure joy of being wrapped up in the embraces of my closest friends when we are reunited: each journey home is a concentrated burst of emotion and hugs and tears and laughter.

Every year, I get to come home on Homecoming weekend. I spend a whirlwind less-than-24 hours with my Grosse Pointe friends in a frenzy of hairspray and fancy dresses and camera flashes and dancing and laughter, and then I return to my physical home in Ada. Never is the juxtaposition between these two homes more obvious. Never is the 150 miles that divides them more heart-wrenching. And never do I feel more lucky.

In my old home, the home of my heart, I’ve been blessed with a fantastic group of people who have offered to adopt me too many times to count, who have opened their homes to me whenever I’m in town and treated me like their sister or daughter, who have spent time writing me letters and text messages, who have never stopped making me feel loved, no matter how far away I live. And in this home, the home of my house and my family, I’ve been given one enormous, soul-strengthening challenge. Coming to Forest Hills was terrifying for me. At a distance of three years, however, I can see that all that frightening newness made me a stronger person. Every breakdown I had freshman year, every awkward social introduction, every uncomfortable new experience: all of them forced me to grow in some way. And as a result, rather than losing my old home, I simply gained another.

Last weekend was my last Homecoming dance in Grosse Pointe, and even though leaving after that too-short visit was painful, it reminded me how lucky I am to have two homes on opposite sides of a state that will both always welcome me, to have such wonderful people in both of them, to have such happy memories from each, and, of course, to be able to come home every year for Homecoming.