I miss my dog. A lot. I miss him so much that I have taped not one but two photos of him to my carrel in the library, and sometimes I talk to them when no one is around. And I miss the rest of my family, too.
I’m not homesick, though. Far from it. By now, the months I’ve spent away from home add up to many years. I’m used to being away from home. I’m used to Maine, too. Maine had become my second home long before my dad and I toured Bowdoin when I was a junior in high school. Instead, I’m simply torn about how to best spend my time.
At the beginning of my time at college, I looked forward to every opportunity I had to go home to New York or to host my family up in Brunswick. I wanted to return home to my parents and brother and sister and dog and revel in the comfort of familial love. I was fortunate to quickly find some great friends, some of whom are still my closest. But I still wanted to go home, as I imagine many first-year students do. I thought that I need not worry about spending every second here, seeing as four years is a long time in the life of a late teenager.
Now, I still look forward to breaks and time at home. I continue to miss my dog and my family. But, of course, the landscape has changed. Four years has shrunk to four months, reducing like a creamy sauce over a flame, simultaneously richening in flavor while disappearing in front of my eyes. So I want to spend every moment remaining here. I want, desperately, to stay with my friends, in my adopted state, amid equally tall piles of books and snow.
Yet, I am still torn.
I’m torn because my time at home is limited, too, isn’t it? I graduate in May, and at some point over the summer, I am shipping off to Europe to teach for a year. Maybe longer. And what happens after that? Surely, adult life with my family cannot be the same as it was before. Don’t I owe it to myself to maximize my time with those I love while I can? I have no grand plan, and I’m okay with that. The uncertainty of it excites me, but it is agonizing because I will miss my dog, and I will miss my family.
So, here I am, among the best friends I’ve ever made, trying to make every lunch we eat together, every episode of “The West Wing” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or baseball game we watch, every unrestrained bout of laughter, last forever. I will miss my friends, and I love them all, too. Dearly. But I’m still missing home, missing my dog, missing my family.
I don’t know the right balance, I don’t know how best to spend my time and I don’t even know where I should be—here or there—all the time. I’m not desperately seeking some correct equation, but I cannot deny my occasional fear of failing to compensate today for some unquantifiable lost time in an unknown future.
When I think about it, I already miss my friends. Nostalgia is already setting in, even before the events of the present sink away into the past. But now there are a finite number of moments to come. I’m not consumed by any kind of fear that I won’t spend my remaining time living so close to my best friends correctly. I know I will enjoy each remaining moment for what it is. And though my time at home may, too, be limited and ambiguous, my dog will have to wait.
So, I choose to be fully present here, in Maine, and carry on missing my family. I will do everything I can to give myself more reasons to miss my friends come June. I miss my dog, but, contrary to what some of them think, I will miss my friends more.
Alexander Kogan is a member of the Class of 2020.