Franklin on his last day of high school, sitting outside at lunch with his friends for the last time.

Franklin Norton , Social Media Manager

A week ago, I stood in the stands of the football field that I spent many days and many Friday nights on. It was there where I practiced every day for track. It was there that I cheered on our high school football team, celebrating victory and being crushed after a lost. It’s been a few years since then and of course, that period of my life seems like a whole other world now. But there I stood. I watched as the student section cheered, how they stormed the field after our team had won, how they celebrated. I stood and watched with tears in my eyes, with a simultaneous pride and nostalgia that made my stomach tighten as I remembered those times when I was a part of that crowd with my own friends and classmates, who are all growing up now, too.

Nostalgia is a powerful feeling. It is this feeling of homesickness for a home that isn’t there anymore. Sure, you can return to these places, but they are never the same. Sometimes, even returning to a place you once called home, it is possible to feel even more homesick afterwards, with the knowledge that things will never be the same as they once were. A hometown is a hometown because of the people, the experiences, the memories—not because of the geography.

Before this game, I was going through my yearbook with friends, looking at the faces of friends who are now strangers—even myself I didn’t recognize. November feels nostalgic to me. I don’t really know what it is, but as the temperature drops and the leaves fall down, my gut is inclined to feel this powerful nostalgia, this reflection on a life that is always changing, season after season. As Thanksgiving break approaches, many college students prepare to go home. Excitement swells up inside us, but from my own experience and the experience of friends, there is a tinge of sadness in these homecomings. It’s almost as if we enter into a living scrapbook where the pictures are faded and our memories are fogged. Home doesn’t necessarily feel like home anymore.

This feels heavy to me, but it is heaviness that is powerful and beautiful, a weightiness that leads to gratitude and appreciation and wonder. As we grow, I think we are constantly redefining home. The “Office,” one of my favorite shows, put this sentiment poignantly, by way of the character Creed. Creed said this in the finale of the series: “No matter how you get there or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home.” I typically don’t agree with, or understand, pretty much anything Creed says in the show, but I think he really hit the nail on the head here. We are all searching for home.

Franklin Norton can be contacted at [email protected]