After the hell-dead-finals marathon, I had only a measly week to recover before jumping back into the fire.  I didn’t have an exotic location like Europe to look forward to nor a big-kid co-op or internship.  Instead, my relaxing getaway was up 285 and through 400 in the suburbs of Alpharetta.  Little did I know, after one year of visiting home for laundry and real food I forgot how to function like a member of society. Maybe, I was actually a tourist and not the local.

The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t know how to dress and blend in.  My sister reminded me that I could not step out in public wearing the same Sting Break t-shirt I wore throughout finals week that smelled like a mixture between tears and Chik-fi-la. High schoolers apparently took upwards to an hour in the morning to straighten hair and put on carefully coordinated outfits to impress people they see for approximately 175 days each year.  It’s like they spent their entire day in an air-conditioned building, sheltered from a hot Georgia sun or formidable hill.

I also felt this weird sense of freedom.  Finally, I could try that new gluten-free bakery that opened up or see old friends and visit my school.  I could spend money at the mall on pretty things instead of my next caffeine fix.  But of course those days of sleeping at 2 and waking up for an 8:00 AM class took a toll on me; I slept until 10 and spent the rest of the day on Netflix. Still, it’s so liberating to watch episode after episode of Parks and Recreation without feeling like I’m taking away time from memorizing organic reactions.

Forget any scientific innovation that takes place within Tech, I discovered that other people exist!  When I went to my town’s huge food festival, I saw more than slightly drunk and clueless young adults and the occasional tenured faculty.  I saw moms with babies on leashes, teens playing on stage with musical dreams, and people that I could still recognize after a year of white and gold.  They wanted to know what the big city was like, but I was more interested in what replaced the Italian ice place that shut down or which math teacher got fired.

After living by numbers like test grades and formulas, it was eye-opening to see how life goes on.  How April 30, 2014 was not I dreaded because of two finals, but it was just a forgettable work day for adults in this town or a fun time for kindergarteners at my old elementary school.  That yes, some day I’ll graduate this school with a degree and join the rat race without a care about that one grade in that one class that one year.

But then, Sunday came and I was more than ready to hit the books rather than “next episode.”  Once I knew every pothole in that town, but it’s time to acquaint myself with every squirrel in Midtown.  The 9-to-5 and PTA meetings can wait because I’m only starting to call this place my home.