After committing to Eastern, I faced one real internal struggle: would I be able to live away from home? I knew that I would be able to live on my own, but I was not sure in my capabilities of living in PA after being raised in FL.
Originally, I was planning on going to school in Tampa, Florida, but my mom was set on me attending a school in PA. We had planned on moving back to PA after I graduated high school. I appeased my mom by applying to Eastern. After being accepted, my reality of becoming a PA resident was starting to scare me. However, after growing up in the same city for 18 years, I did not know what I would exactly miss when I would get to college.
Now, after attending Eastern and living in PA for almost three years, I think I can pinpoint the obvious things that I miss from being home in FL everyday. I miss my best friends, Ashley and Marissa. I miss talking to them everyday and seeing what they accomplish. I miss seeing my niece and nephew, Ariana and Jace, change and grow. However, there is something else that I miss, something that is perhaps less tangible.
I miss the smell of burnt oranges from the Tropicana factory next to the water of the west coast, making it a weird combination for my nose to take in. I miss the feeling of anticipation while watching the amazing workers at Publix make my chicken tender pub sub– a Floridian classic. I think I miss the vibrations of metal stands during a high school football game. I miss the taste of my saxophone reed. I miss the feeling of humidity, something that I hated while living there, but I soon began to miss the feeling of being hit with a wet towel as soon as I stepped outside. I miss my casual interactions with alligators and iguanas. I miss the feeling of being immersed in the Sunshine State.
However, perhaps the thing I miss the most in FL is my mom. After getting accepted to Eastern in Feb. of 2016, my mom passed unexpectedly the next month. Now when I’m in FL, I am surrounded by the air that she last breathed. I like to think that her spirit paints the sunset over the Gulf. When I go home during breaks, the weather seems to be gentle on me. I think my mom works hard to make it pretty when she knows I’ll be down. I try to remember her final months in FL– the final moments of me knowing her.
When I go home, I take pictures of all that I love. I take these pictures and look through them every once in a while when I miss FL. I have pictures of entire aisles of orange juice. I have photos of signs stating ‘don’t feed the alligators.’ I also have to admit that I have way too many pictures of Publix. I also have videos of my niece and nephew, so I can remember each moment I spend with them.
I share my photos with my friends here at Eastern. I think inviting them to see what I grew up with makes us closer. I did not realize how important my Floridian upbringing impacted me until coming to Eastern. I often get called “Florida” when I complain about weather lower than 75 degrees being too cold for school. And my northern friends tend to pick up on my southern take on enunciating my a’s.
In the end, I think there is art and beauty in home. At first when I came to Eastern, I thought that a home had to be a tangible place. Never would I had thought that it would be a hot and wet southern state. I do not think that I would have noticed the beauty of FL unless I was discovering a new place.