The stars. Any time my family asks, that’s the answer. The question isn’t anything special. I’m certain that plenty of others have been asked it as well — have been interrogated about it by parents, siblings and friends alike until the answer becomes almost second nature, visceral in a way that few things can be.
“What do you miss most from your old home?”
I’ll admit it without hesitation. I miss the stars.
In rural Texas, you could see them for miles, the lights stretching endlessly into the cavernous void of the night. In the winter, they pierced through the chill to create an illusion of warmth, as though their light could lay itself over the earth’s surface and protect it against the cold. In the summer, as a child, my brother would content himself with trying to teach me every constellation he could think of — Lyra, Hercules, Aquila — until his memory trailed off and the words ran dry. On my first night on campus at Georgetown University, my discomfort was not borne by homesickness, but instead by the stark realization that I could no longer see them. I could call my friends. I could call my parents. But I would never be able to call the stars.
It was hard for the first week. I never realized how much I actually appreciated the stars until they were gone. Although I knew that my relationship with the celestial bodies was personal — since I have an older sibling who is fascinated with the galaxy — I never thought that I would actually mourn the stars’ disappearance. A strange sense of longing struck me each time I looked at the night sky. I missed a friend that I never knew I had. My sister sent me glow-in-the-dark stars to stick on my ceiling to ease the phantom pain, but as sweet as the gesture was, it wasn’t quite the same.
However, for some reason unknown to me at the time, it began to get easier. Night by night, the yearning to look into the sky and see something diminished, declined and dwindled steadily until it became nothing more than a faint ache in the back of my mind. I don’t remember when it happened, but one night, I looked up and found that I was perfectly satisfied with where I was. It wasn’t until very recently that I realized why the shift occurred.
I met new people.
It sounds so simple — even a little cliche — but it’s true.
In Texas, I was isolated. I lived 15 minutes away from any semblance of civilization. My next-door neighbor owned 17 acres of land and eight horses. The stars were my only companions in a land of monotony and solitude. When I moved to Georgetown, that changed. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the sole teenager in a wasteland of wheat and cotton. I became an individual in a tight-knit community that genuinely cares about its inhabitants. Georgetown has proven itself to be the municipal equivalent to a family. It exudes the most awareness and pride that I have ever experienced, which even the stars could never provide for me.
This is not to say that I don’t still miss them; I do. However, the people at Georgetown more than make up for their absence. Every individual that I have met on this campus is radiant in his own way and has shone with more personality and vigor than even my favorite constellations. Every individual has made Georgetown more than just a university.
They have made it a home.
When my distant relatives wish me well on my academic journey, I know both the question that they will ask, and the answer that I will give.
“So, Jess, what do you miss the most about Texas?”
The stars. I miss the stars.
Although, when I look at the people I’ve met, it doesn’t sting as much anymore.
Jessica Portales is a freshman in the College.
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