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Goeun Park: Home really is where you hang your hat

Oh, Minnesota. I’ve missed you.

After months and miles away, it’s good to be back home. Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting the coldest temperatures since who knows when, but even if I had, I’m sure I would’ve still been ruefully unprepared. The desert winter back in Southern California was pleasantly brisk, emphasis on pleasant. Minnesota is quite the contrast.

At first, being home was major déjà vu. Maybe it was jetlag. More likely, it was my excessive sentimentality that made me obnoxiously point out every store in town. Even after two weeks here, the novelty from snow, Central Market donuts and people saying pop instead of soda has yet to fade.

So far, I’ve spent winter break more asleep than awake. I’ve made a habit of waking up at noon just to watch ridiculous amounts of “The Office” and shovel equally ridiculous amounts of ice cream into my mouth. To justify my gluttony, I’ve half-heartedly assured myself, “This is my reward. It was a rough semester. I deserve this.”

I’m sure my mother only lets this behavior slide because I’ve been emotionally traumatized by textbooks. That, and I graciously volunteered to drive my brother to school. Now that has been an interesting experience.

As someone who obtained her license last summer, driving this season has been a distressing surprise. I can finally understand why people complain about it so much. Still, the icy roads and chilly car seats aren’t even the worst of it.

The real atrocity is the time school starts: a little after 8 a.m. I know I shouldn’t be so appalled by the fact because I was in high school less than a year ago, yet I’m stupefied by how early that is. I don’t know how they do it. I don’t know how I did it.

For better or for worse, I haven’t changed drastically since high school. I’m fairly certain that I look exactly the same. But my perspective has shifted, just a little. Perspective on mundane things, really, like my new standards on earliness. But this kind of shift in perspective makes being home a little…surreal.

As much as I enjoy spending time with family and old friends, I can’t help feeling unsettled. They call my college town the City of Trees and PhDs, but for the past four months, I’ve called it home. There, I spent most of December missing Detroit Lakes. Ironically, now that I’m here, I miss the home I left behind in California.

To distract myself from my cracking hands and cold feet, I searched the weather back on campus. I longed for the cheese omelets from Sunday brunch. I missed being less than a mile away from everyone and I missed being busy with school and I missed knowing where I belonged.

For a while, I just missed everything about my second home, forgetting how much I missed this small town covered in snow only weeks before.

Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out why I compulsively miss things when they’re gone. I’m tempted to blame it on human nature. Whatever it is, I think it’s about time I stopped thinking in terms of “here” and “there” but live in the “now.”

Goeun Park graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends college in California