Chronicles of Narnia: the Student, the Shift, and the Family
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Pevencie children spent years in the world of Narnia, battling the White Witch and growing up to be adults and rulers of Narnia. As the adult Pevencies wandered through the forest, they stumbled upon the very wardrobe that transported them from the real world into Narnia when they were kids and entered it. They return to the real world, only to discover they returned to their same young bodies as when they first entered Narnia as children, and nothing in the real world changed one bit in their seemingly long absence.
In some aspects, college is like Narnia. You enter into a mysterious place filled with mysterious people, venture through that place for a long time, and return home as a different person, growing up and maturing in the process. Like Narnia, it can be a beautiful place, a whole new world that exposes you to more than your small corner of the world.
Alas, college isn’t Narnia. Unlike Narnia, your home world changes once you leave and return after a while. Nothing stays the same. You can’t expect your room to be exactly as it was before you left home after half a year. The room will get dusty; perhaps cobwebs will spring in the corners; your room would be remodeled into an unrecognizable form. You, who used to be that force that kept everything in order, left your room susceptible to outside forces (read: your parents). Prom photos of you and your significant other that were once fondly placed in that spot above your computer are now moved to a disturbing new spot, perhaps even absent altogether. Out of force of habit, your eyes subconsciously shift towards above that printer expecting to indulge in a memory — to your disappointment. All your eyes now see are an empty space on that printer and an alien room of a different color and rearranged furniture. Your eyes scurry across the room, disoriented at the new positions or missing pieces of your past due to the remodeling of your parents. You might find that romantic prom picture somewhere else, only to be dissatisfied with it; its unfamiliar spot doesn’t give that same emotional impact as when it was in its original habitat.
Such is what awaits back home during breaks, be it Fall, Thanksgiving, Winter, Spring, or Summer. The first time it happened to me, I was in shock. What was once dark hardwood floors and walls became pallor white marble tiles and painted walls. What was once my ocean bedroom became invaded by my younger brother and his loud pet parakeet. What was once my spot at the dinner table became my mothers. When I came back for my first Thanksgiving break, I’ve been exiled into the disconcerting red walls of the guest room and to the foreign other end of our rectangular dinner table. This wasn’t the place I grew up in for 18 years. This place didn’t feel like home.
By the time Thanksgiving came, I was still disoriented. I discovered, however, a few things that did not change: the people and the traditions. My brother still looked like the goofy kid I left 3 months ago; I still washed the dishes with my mother; and my cousins still visited to play our beloved Cards Against Humanity and Super Smash Bros. while my dad carved the turkey. Just like the good ol’ days.
After that, I didn’t think about the changes anymore. I grew fond of the more spacious guest room and I appreciated my space at the dinner table. I was able to step back and look at my house in a different light, and I can honestly say that the marble tiles were a much better look than hardwood. They began to gleam white in the sunlight and glow in the lamps at night. My old room wasn’t “invaded” by my brother, but simply passed down like a torch. I accepted the changes.
I realized that these changes were superficial. At the end of the day, my family was still my family and my cousins were still my cousins. What was most important — our love for each other and our company — didn’t change, and that’s all that mattered. That’s the best part about the real world over Narnia; people change more slowly than objects, but it’s the people that count.
I know that it’s currently Winter Break and that Thanksgiving is past, but this experience holds true for any break. I hope you find that fundamental love that never changes as you return to your families during this break. As for those who have not yet experienced traveling far from home yet, I hope you will do the same in the future. Happy holidays, from my family to yours.