You Can’t Go Home –Nicole

When I wake up around 1300, after working all night, I’m excited. Soon I’ll be leaving my apartment to go back home to Wisconsin on leave for two weeks. I’ll get to see my family and my two best friends. I also found out that there will be a five year reunion for my class while I’m home.

When I got home, I headed to my aunt’s house, where my family was having a get together. Everyone is there, and there is so much food, laughter, and the occasional friendly bickering that always happens when my family gets together. When the food is ready we all gather around. We find a place to sit and then we wait till my great uncle bows his head. We all follow suit, and he starts the prayer. Once he is done we all say amen and then dig into the food. After the first couple of bites people start talking to each other. It’s usually just caching up with each other or playfully picking on one another. Everyone has a smile on their face and is having a good time being with each other. I have to say it’s these moments that I miss the most when I’m away from my family for a long period of time, but for some reason whenever I drive back to Nebraska I always feel a little bit of happiness mixed in with sadness of having to leave them behind for another six months to a year. The happiness is most likely to be going back to my own apartment that I have made my home.

After we are done eating most of my family sit around and talk. My grandma and my two youngest cousins sit around the table and play cards. To me this is a lot of fun because I can’t help but pick on my youngest cousin for always losing when she says this time is finally the time she is going to beat me in cards. Then there is my grandma who you have to be careful with because she’ll cheat and not even realize she has done it. She’ll play the wrong card or not play a card when she’s supposed to because she doesn’t know what she has because she isn’t wearing her glasses. The last person that I have to watch out for is my cousin Kendra. She is so quiet and sneaky that she can win the card game and we won’t even know it because we’re not paying attention to her because we are so focused on each other that when she wins it comes as such a big surprise.

The get together is starting to die down and people are getting ready to leave. I say goodbye to everyone and give them hugs, saying it was so good to see them again. Slowly everyone leaves, along with my parents. I’ve decided to stay the night at my Aunt’s because the class reunion is less than five minutes away from her house.

The next day is a Saturday and the reunion isn’t until the afternoon, so I’m planning on spending the morning with my aunt, uncle, and cousin. When my cousin Ashley and I wake up, Aunt Dodi is making breakfast for all of us, and Uncle Dale is outside in his workshop working on his dump truck.

After Ashley and I are done eating we go outside to the barn to feed the horses and the donkey. Once they are done eating we stay out in the pasture for a couple of hours before I get ready for the reunion. As I’m getting ready I’m texting my two best friends, Zack and Erica, to see if they are going to be there. Zack texts back saying that he is already on his way there, and Erica says that she’s not going to go. I text her asking why she won’t be there and she says, “Nobody is going to have changed; they’re all going to be the same as they were in high school. It has only been five years, and everyone hasn’t really done anything with their life. I’ll go to the fifteen year reunion when I’ve actually gone somewhere in life and I’m happy with where I am at.” In my head I’m thinking, “If you’re not happy with something in your life, the only way it will change is if you make it,” but I tell her, “You never know how something is going to be unless you go and see if for yourself.” I’m soon done getting ready and I head out the door.

I get to the reunion a little early because I hate being late, probably because in the military you have to be fifteen minutes early or you’re late, and there aren’t that many people there yet. Soon a lot of my old friends show up, and they say how much they missed me and that we need to hangout while I’m back. It’s nice to see them all again. While I was caching up with and my old friends from high school other people have shown up and I go around a talk to everyone that has shown up. As I’m talking to them, they hug me and say how much they missed me and that we should hangout sometime, but they also mention on how much I have changed since high school. All I can think about while I’m talking to them is, “We were never friends in high school, and we never hung out at all, ever.” But the biggest thing that was going through my mind was, “You haven’t changed at all since high school. Erica was right; they’re all the same. They act like they’re still in high school. They even stick to their same clicks.”

Back home nothing has changed. The only thing that has really changed with them is how they look older, are married, and/or have kids. I realized that the biggest change that has happened is with me. I no longer have the high school mentality that the people in my class still have. I’ve matured and have experience outside of our little town that has opened my eyes to the different possibilities out there. While most of them will not even leave the area, let alone the state. I’m glad I joined the military, and I’m happy with how it has changed me, well for the most part.

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