All of what characterizes home.

Since the whirlwind weekend of graduation events, life has certainly slowed down…or rather, screeched to a halt. While being home certainly has its benefits, it lacks commotion and busyness and people and all of what characterizes city life.

That’s a hard adjustment to make in terms of what I’m used to. I’ve spent the past four years living in very urban environments, after all, and Black Diamond, as the name suggests, isn’t exactly a booming metropolis. [For example: When Fred Meyer opened in Maple Valley, that was a really big deal for us. Yahoo.] I’m used to living on my own, in my own kitchen, on my own schedule, and with my friends. Now, I’m feeling very far away from everyone, even from my friends in Seattle when it’s the closest I’ve been in 9 months.

It’s also strange to be without homework. For the last year…no, really, a year, I have been working on my honors project, which I needed to complete in order to graduate from SPU’s University Scholars honors program. Last week, I finally finished that sucker — all 61 pages of it. [Fact: Even though you are technically granted 75 pages of free printing at the King County Library System per week, you also have to endure the librarians’ frowns of disapproval as print all your pages at once.] It felt so good to have that turned in, because it has been hanging over me for a long time.

Recently, though, I’ve felt a little lost. I’m waiting for my summer class to start in a couple weeks, so I’m not working a summer job in the usual sense (pros: No more frappuccinos for me! cons: I really did love working at Starbucks). I’m still doing some work for Center for Public Justice, where I interned this spring; I’m reading a lot; and I’m making many unnecessary trips to Fred Meyer, just because it’s there.

But this week has been better, because I don’t feel like I’m expecting so much of the summer anymore. It is what it is; I am where I am (i.e. not D.C.) and I can make the best of that.

Ain’t we just adorbs? This is pretty typical, except I might usually look more annoyed. Sibling love.

Today, for example, was Derek’s 16th birthday, and it was like a day-long food fest. We are a family of food traditions, and it’s actually one of my favorite traditions: We celebrate birthdays with birthday dinner and some sort of decadent, over-the-top, homemade cake.

But the point is not that we eat and eat and eat (which we did, let’s be real). I love birthdays because they let us have so much family time together. We sit and talk for a long time, and most nights no one wants to be the one to start the dish train.

Long after our cake was finished tonight, we sat and brainstormed ideas for words to put on my graduation cake for Saturday, making multiple Spongebob, Stand By Me, and Emperor’s New Groove references along the way.

We have our best moments around the dinner table. Those are the moments that help me remember why it is good to be home.

And our final choice for the cake? Well, no one said graduation was supposed to entirely serious. I hope.

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