The frigid nighttime shimmer keeps us awake in the frost of absence from where we grew up—that is to say, home. Home is an offering made to be for us, and for students at UVA, the Grounds are ideally an indication of this concept. However, when the wind gusts, and the food turns cold, and we clean our own clothes, something begins to ring on the end of this word—the same word that can apply, evidently, to many locations all at once. But more than anything, home is an emotion, and family is the most apt to engender the distilled influx of homely satisfaction. To be reunited with home, then, is the compassionate establishment of an equator for oneself, whether it exists within a friend, a significant other, or one’s parents.
For that matter, parents serve a multitude of purposes to their children—they guide, they teach, they listen, they engage, they seek to understand, and they provide, but perhaps most importantly, they learn along with us. Each year, parents’ weekend at UVA is a principal exemplification of a style of learning to follow along with that of their children—it is conceivably an opportunity to experience a sliver of vicarious gratification, but also of intense pride that we are here. As much of an accomplishment that it is to arrive here, it is one of comparable merit to have been left behind, yet to falter when the silence of a house with no kids or with one fewer is deafening, as is that of a dorm room that initially may feel as though it is the essence of a void with no hominess. Translating the safety of home to a new place of perceived solace is no simple task, yet it is necessary at various points of life, including the one at which many of us find ourselves. But when two halves of home converge as one, does the resulting confluence consist more of the former, or the latter?
In any situation, the answer may serve the same relative purpose. These ambiguous circumstances, such as one’s own personal perspective on loneliness, belonging, indifference, or longing, are similar, in the sense that, by the time the sun sets behind barren trees and again rises a profoundly cold demeanor of autumn in Virginia, they will always remain the foundation of childhood, underneath the surface of what we have become along the path of fulfilling a potential bestowed upon us long ago by those who visit on occasion. As such, as we are reunited with our parents, we are approached by a nostalgic labyrinth of our own subconsciousness, and subsequently, nothing may be the same as that first inkling of voices heard every day for many crucial years, whispering as we once fell asleep in the backseat, laughing hysterically while playing board games, cheering for us at on stage or court or field. Now, grounds appear to shift into something more comprehensively attuned to our lives.
Perhaps we are taken out to dinner, and we inquire about home, and the dog, and the cat. We ask how the grandparents are, and whether our parents have kept our bedroom the same. They could never bring themselves to change a thing. After all, when so much change spans a lifetime of years following childhood, additional and optional alterations are superfluous, such that they would merely accentuate a confounding sequence of awe. Supplementary as they become, however, it remains genuine that nothing can prevent what is to come at the end of the weekend, when we are left, once again, on our own, after many anecdotes are exchanged and the check has been paid. Parents drive away again, and there is traffic all around, symbolic of the occupied mind as two worlds have collided, and the sense of this process should be self-explanatory but is not so casually intelligible, until stillness lasts once more in the dead of night, and we sit up with a smile. The streets are more empty than normal, even during the day, and so each brick of the sidewalk has more of a personality, despite being partially obscured by crushed shards of leaves. In each building, traffic in lines and by heaters mimic the streets on that fateful night—the moment in which childhood and adulthood are clarified as staunchly a mere extension of the other.