Until I came here as a freshmen, I had neither ever been to the Midwest nor ever had a close friend from the region. I came clueless, got used to the place over 4 years, and now I leave again in a week indefinitely. It is possible that I never come back to Ann Arbor, even though I now know almost every street and store here. I’ve never gone back to New Hampshire since middle school or to New Jersey since high school. When I stop and think, it feels weird that a place, its people and culture, can consume the whole of my daily life for a long period of time, and become the default environment of my life, and then suddenly vanish from me, never become a daily part of me again, and gradually start to fade away from my memory forever. I’ve repeated this process several times that I am altogether numb about leaving Michigan. It is only when a slice of memory appears involuntarily much later that I’ll be able to feel nostalgia.
I don’t think this is either good or bad; I think it just is. There isn’t a location that I feel cannot be separated from my life, because pretty much every place has already been separated from me. To be sure, it’s not that I feel like I don’t belong anywhere. I certainly feel like I belong here, in South Korea, and in NYC, too. But, all the same, I don’t feel like I am grounded anywhere. I’m not sure if I can name a single place that is the deepest foundation of myself. It’s all scattered, so in order to bring out a cohesive narrative out of those pieces, I need special memories from each place. And having worked hard for something one cares about is always one of the things that can later invoke nostalgia in her mind. Among other things, I think this class will be one of those experiences by which I will remember Michigan.