“Love can be for a boy or a girl or a place or a way of life or even for a family. But where you find it is up to you.”
Four years ago, I fell in love.
Leaving for college was hard. Really hard. My parents and I are extremely close; they’re two of my best friends and I was moving away from them to start my life elsewhere. But, while I struggled heavily with the idea of leaving my parents, I never had a second thought about leaving my town behind.
I was born and raised in Ohio, home to corn fields and the famous scarlet and gray. Most people have pride for where they came from; when I applied to colleges, I didn’t apply to a single in-state school. I wanted to see the world, explore things outside of Ohio’s borders. Despite how many years I’d spent in my originating state, it never felt like home. I had no attachment whatsoever, and I felt a little lost. Like I didn’t know where I was supposed to land.
I applied to schools across the country, from California to Florida, hoping to find my place in the world. For most of my adolescent life, I thought it was California. I felt like California had been calling my name and that was what I wanted. Then I visited a university in the south, and I knew that was where I was meant to be.
So I packed up my things and moved my life 500 miles away to North Carolina.
Four years ago, I fell in love with North Carolina. And I continued to fall more and more in love with the Tarheel state every day I was there. I can’t necessarily articulate what it is about the state that draws me in so strongly, but I find a sense of peace there; a feeling of home. I never felt like that in Ohio. In my hometown, I always felt out of place. Like I was a saltwater fish in a fresh water pond. I could survive for a while because of my family’s presence, but I felt suffocated, deprived of the air that I needed to breathe from the place where I belonged.
I love my family more than anything; wherever they are, I will always find myself drawn there simply because of them. But when I left for North Carolina, I did something for me. And it felt right.
I don’t think I fully realized how much I loved North Carolina until I had to leave it.
My heart longs for North Carolina, and I think it always will. I found myself there and became the person I am today because of it. While I may not sport a southern accent or have any desire to drink sweet tea, North Carolina has felt more like a home to me than Ohio ever has.
I truly believe love heals. Love creates. Love conquers. Love is everything.
But that love doesn’t have to be for a person. I fell in love with a place four years ago, and I’m sure I’ll fall in love again in the future. With people, places, experiences, and things I’ll never anticipate. But whatever form of love life decides to throw my way, I’m excited to catch it.
I left a piece of my heart in North Carolina. Someday, I’ll find my way back there to be with it again. But for now, Carolina is holding onto it for safe keeping.
Choose to find love. Search for passion in life and follow your heart, no matter where it takes you. Because of where it will take you. Life is too short to settle.