Feeling homesick for people
Ashton Weber | Monday, April 20, 2020
I may not be the “Observer Columnist of the Century”or anything, but I hope I’ve done a decent enough job this past year to keep you reading. If not, congrats! This is the last time in a while you’ll be hearing from me.
What sorts of things does one share in their final column? I spent quite a bit of time contemplating the question but couldn’t arrive at anything that felt right. Then I started to think about all I’ve shared with you this past academic year and realized that we can’t seem to stop talking about home. We discussed how I couldn’t find home in friendships, the church, Notre Dame or even my own body.
But it’s funny because, as I’m holed up in my basement right now, listening to One Direction songs and typing alone, I know where my home is. It hasn’t been in one place, but rather in this messy conglomeration of all the people that have influenced who I am and poured into my identity. My home is every space where I’m welcomed and accepted and loved. My home is every person who welcomes and accepts and loves me.
I’m turning 20 in a month, so I want to wrap up this year’s column and the past two decades on a positive note, by sharing with you the people who have become my home.
I’ve been lucky to live more of my life with a best friend than without one. We met in preschool, during playtime. Our parents quickly became friends after we had a few playdates and her two younger siblings were born in sync with the two Webers younger than me.
After kindergarten ended, we started going to different schools and we’ve never been in the same class again — except for dance class. Our dancer days started with this weird hip-hop/jazz combo class in fifth grade and transitioned to ballet soon after, as we realized we weren’t cut out for the world of competitive teenage dance. When we entered high school, I switched studios and she stopped dancing, but our friendship has never stopped. We went to each other’s school dances and hung out on the weekends. Now, we drive the 3.5 hours between Bloomington and South Bend to visit each other in our new home state of Indiana.
In the 16 years we’ve known each other, I can’t think of a single time we’ve fought. We’re not those movie best friends who talk every day and know every tiny detail of each other’s lives, but we don’t need to be. Instead, we have years of childhood memories and survival of embarrassing middle-school phases binding us together. No matter what happens, I know we’ll always have each other.
I’ve known my sister only a year longer than Madison. I’m the oldest and she’s the next in line. When we were kids, we had the cutest little friendship. She liked yellow and I liked pink, so we had matching sets of everything in our respective color. We made up shows and performed on the stage our dad built for us in the basement, alongside our little brothers (who we spent hours dressing as princesses).
We shared a room with bunk beds and when I started to have nighttime anxiety attacks at 10, she’d let me sleep in the bottom bunk with her. She’s always had my back like that.
My sister knows exactly who she is and she always has. She holds her ground fiercely and does not back down. When I reached that awkward 13-year-old stage of insecurity, I decided that the best way to deal with my self-consciousness was to shake her self-esteem. I became ruthless, judgmental and vindictive. We fought a lot and weren’t close for a long time. But when she came to high school and I was finally in a better personal place, I started to see how incredible my little sister is.
She’s compassionate and artistic and very, very cool. We’re polar opposites and we still know how to fight like verbal WWE stars, but we respect our differences and know now how to love each other because of them. I don’t deserve the forgiveness and kindness she chooses to show me every day, but I’ll be grateful for it forever.
It was March of 2018, and we were both living on campus for an admitted students weekend. A fancy dinner was part of the event, but somehow all the tables in the main dining room were full and we found ourselves stuck in a side room. We hadn’t been introduced yet but he was sitting across from me as I told a story that was almost definitely NOT funny. When I finished, he was the only person at the table laughing. I looked up and said, “WHAT?! You thought that was funny?!” and immediately declared him my best friend. We spent the rest of the night mocking wannabe Menbrozas at an ice cream social (as we intermittently reflected on how nice we are because we’re both from the Midwest … ironic, right?).
When we got to campus in the fall, we learned we’d be next door neighbors (he’s in Dunne and I’m in Flaherty) and the rest has been history. On campus, we frequently stay up until 3 a.m. talking about life under the guise of doing homework and when we’re not together, multi-hour Facetimes make up for the loss.
John is possibly the happiest person I know and his energy is infections. We made a new year’s resolution together to be sparklier this year and I think, upon reflection, his friendship has made my whole life just that: sparklier.
Maureen & Laura
I’m running out of words, but I would be writing a terrible account of people who’ve become home if I didn’t mention the roommates who have accompanied me through my ND journey.
The random housing assignment generators are brilliant people for gifting me with Maureen, the kindest and most incredible freshman roommate I could have ever asked for. After a year of storytelling and popcorn tasting, kaleidoscope glasses and Cheryl’s cookies, I’m so happy to have found a friend for life.
At the start of this year, I didn’t know my roommate Laura very well, but our friendship grew so much throughout the course of our shared inhabitance of Flaherty 343. We baked “healthy” dessert, watched scary movies and shared all our very exciting life drama. We also co-parented a unicorn piñata named Hank (who would’ve thought?). Much like Hank’s life, our time together ended too soon. The world better watch out for our reunion. Much like Hank’s death, it will be a beautiful mess.
I’m officially out of words now, but I just needed to say that I have the best people in the world and couldn’t imagine my life without any of them. Thank you for being my home! I can’t wait to break out of my literal home and come hug you all.
And thank you, readers, for becoming part of my home too. By paying attention to my words and responding to them, you’ve shown me love and acceptance and support in such a beautiful way. I hope you all continue to stay safe and, if you’re up for the challenge, I hope that you’ll take some time today to think about who your home is.
Ashton Weber is a sophomore with lots of opinions. She is majoring in econ and film, television and theatre with a JED minor. Making new friends is one of her favorite things, so feel free to contact her at [email protected] or @awebz01 on Twitter.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.