Unlike many of the first-year students headed home over thanksgiving break, I had not been to my hometown in 6 months. In late May I packed my things, left my house in southeast Pennsylvania, and headed up to the mountains of New Hampshire. During these next three months I was able to deepen my sense of place in the mountains that I have grown up visiting since I was ten years old. Living in the middle of the mountains, removed from the hustle of everyday life, I was able to truly connect with my surrounding environment. I was dependent on the weather which would decide what I would do that day as well as the trails for getting me everywhere I needed to go.
Living up in the alpine was truly difficult as the sun seldom shines and there is a guaranteed hailstorm every month of the year. Because of this, you truly appreciate the sunny days and savor every moment. These mountains certainly transformed me into the person that I became going into college; where I then evolved some more. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving I was certainly excited to head back on home and sleep in my own bed for the first time in a long while. However, driving back into my hometown was a much different experience than I expected. All of a sudden, I felt small and almost discontent. I realized that I am a much different person now than I was when I lived here. I noticed many things from my hometown that I found quite unsettling. There were many new developments and a whole new shopping center under construction where there had been a field, prior. The bike path that I used to frequent was torn up by new construction. I also realized that it wasn’t just the physical environment that changed but also my perception. I was much more observant to these changes than I had ever been before.
Our town has a rich history with both land use and cultural heritage. There are some cobblestones in our town square that remain from the 1700’s. I think back to that time where there were no cars whipping down the streets and instead people walking around to the market-place with maybe a horse and buggy or two. Now there are built up apartments and stores that quite frankly establish a sense of placelessness within me. I think that I don’t fully associate myself as being a person from the suburbs of Philadelphia. I have found that when people find out that I am from Pennsylvania they are confused and don’t quite expect it. I have made a lot of choices to explore places outside of my hometown and gain lots of experiences from those places. Because I chose to live outside of the bubble that is my hometown, I return and feel this uneasiness being back. I have been able to change and evolve so much and many of the people I know have not. The place has also lost so of the luster that I remember so well and it is instead replaced with developments and little green space.