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On living with the best of both worlds

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My home is 2,447.9 miles from here, in Atlanta, Georgia. (And yes, I’m actually from the city itself, not the nearby suburbs.) Now, while it’s not nearly as far as some people have had to travel, there is still a pretty significant jump between Palo Alto and Atlanta.

When I came to college, I knew that I wasn’t going to have any friends, nor my family or even a familiar face, as no one else from my high school has gone to Stanford in about six years. Just like many others who were starting over from scratch, if I had been so inclined, I could have completely reinvented myself or even made up some elaborate lie about my entire past. I didn’t do either of those things, but as far as everyone here is concerned, I may as well have. They would never know.

I left behind 18 years of my life. A childhood spent watching cartoons and bouncing from house to house for playdates, an awkward and annoying pre-teen phase, some memorable adolescent years — all of this molding me into the person that stands before everyone she meets on this campus. And yet, none of them know anything about any of it.

Sure, I can tell stories. And believe me, I’ve raved many times about how much I love my home and everyone there. Still, no matter how much I talk about that one restaurant my friends and I would fill with our laughter on Friday afternoons or the rounds of “Cards Against Humanity” played in my best friend’s basement, I know that no one really gets what I’m talking about. They listen, and they smile and they take in everything I say, but it can never go deeper than the surface, because all I have to accompany my words are pictures and videos. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but they can’t even come close to truly representing any of my  real life experiences.

The same is true the other way around as well. When I go home for breaks, we all exchange stories about our new lives. And then I start throwing out abbreviations like “CoHo” and “MemChu,” or using new slang like “send it,” or even just saying “Tresidder” or “Rinc,” and I become extremely aware of the need for me to stop and explain everything that I’m saying before I can even carry on with the story. Again, they listen, and they smile and they laugh, but there’s still a huge separation between their interpretations of my life here and my actual life here, and that gap can never really be bridged.

I have two completely different lives in two completely different places. And so do most people. I feel the same way when I listen to my friends here talking about their home towns, or when I’m FaceTiming my friends from home about their new lives in college. And who knows, maybe I am a slightly different version of myself here versus there.

I still feel like myself, but if everyone and everything from both of my separate little worlds were to appear in the same place, how would I fit into the situation? Would my best friends from home and my best friends here even like each other? If I knew my college friends back in high school, how different would my memories be? I don’t know, and I’ll never know. It’s weird having pieces of my heart lodged in so many places and so many people who don’t really know anything about each other. But, as Hannah Montana would say, I guess I just have the best of both worlds.

 

Contact Kassidy Kelley at kckelley ‘at’ stanford.edu.