What It Means to Come Home

One month in and we have officially reached the slump in the semester. This week felt particularly long. I was sludging through my days, trying to keep up with homework and extracurricular activities. Meanwhile, I was bombarded with reminders about homecoming events.

Call me cynical, but I was a little nonplussed by homecoming. I attended a few events and enjoyed them, but I couldn’t figure out why it was such a big deal. I definitely didn’t understand what enjoyment alumni would find in coming back.

Is that harsh? I’m sorry. I told you, it was a long week. I love Millikin and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, but I’m also really tired. And it’s hard to understand missing a place when you’re currently there.  

But on Saturday of homecoming weekend, I finally started to get it.

I decided last-minute to tour the James Millikin homestead. I had never been before and it had always seemed interesting. It’s a beautiful house located not far from campus and it’s where Millikin’s founders lived. Some of the plans for Millikin were made at their dining room table.  

As I listened to the tour guide, I felt a sense of pride. I was getting an inside look at the history of Millikin – a place where I live and study, where I chose to build my life, at least for a couple of years.  

So, yeah, I was starting to get it. But then I spoke with some alumni and it really clicked.  

These two alumni had attended Millikin in the sixties. They told me about meeting in a science class (which was held in Scovill Hall, not Leighty Tabor) and how they had kept in touch. They were still close and they made the drive together to attend homecoming weekend.  

It was interesting to hear about how their friendship is so connected to Millikin. It made me think of the friends I have here (some of the best people I know) and how I wouldn’t know them at all if it weren’t for this school. Our bond will always tie back to Millikin.

I could see why these alumni decided to come back, but their interest in homecoming went beyond their own history at Millikin. They asked my friend and I what we were studying. Both of them were involved in Greek life and they were excited to meet with new members of their respective organizations.  

They wanted to hear about the current students at Millikin. They wanted to know about the future.  

Clearly, their time at Millikin has stayed with them throughout their lives. So I understand why the alumni decided to visit this weekend. They were coming home. 

This extends to the “Decaturian,” too. A few weeks ago, I met the former advisor of the “Decaturian.” He wanted to know about how we do things at the “Dec” today, and he was interested in how we had grown and what we do differently.

Just like the alumni, this man’s life has taken him away from Millikin, but he still remembers all the years that he invested here. And he still cares about what happens at our school and the students who are behind it.

I wonder if he reads our newspapers. Just like the alumni seem to be, I hope that he’s proud of what he left behind.

As the semester picks up, it’s easy to get lost in the overwhelming monotony of school, work, and all of the other responsibilities that seem to pile up on us. Sometimes, we even wish it away. We fantasize about graduation. We imagine leaving.

But I realized that even when we leave Millikin, part of us will stay on this campus. We will have stories and friendships and memories that came from Millikin. Our lives will be intertwined with our time here.

Right now, it can be overwhelming. But I’m sure that I’ll miss it just as much as the people I met do. My time at Millikin will forever be part of my life. And I know that I’ll always be welcome here when I decide to return.  

That sounds like home to me. Happy homecoming, Big Blue.