The Way Back Home

Andover has been many things to me, but it has not been — and never will be — home. Home will always be the yellow house with green shutters on Franklin Street in Newton, Mass. It will not be the looming figure of the Bell Tower against the night sky or the blue glow of the SamPhil clock that lights the way back to my dorm on late nights after Phillipian covenant.

That’s not to say I have not loved it here or that I have not valued the time I spent here. It is just that my relationship with Andover has been incredibly complex; some of my best moments happened within the confines of my worst moments.

There were times when Andover certainly felt like home. Contained in the midst of the crushing onslaught of work and headlong rush to the end that was Upper Spring and Senior Fall are some of favorite memories. There was something inextricably liberating about that afternoon without work I spent downtown with two friends or collapsing onto a newsroom couch, popsicle in hand, to escape from the spring heat outside. Nothing will ever compare to the bliss that was sleeping 18 straight hours after finishing Upper Spring finals or the relief of turning in my econ paper Senior Fall. There were the innumerable loops around the Bell Tower in the slight burn of the crisp fall air, the Saturday night spent lying on the turf staring at the stars, the regular sushi orders to _The Phillipian_.

Andover is where I have grown and matured; Andover is where I feel safe. As a matter of fact, Andover checks almost all of the boxes in my mind of what “home” should be. But the primary difference is this: Andover changes. It does not give me the ability to return.

I realized this a few weeks ago, when I went back down to the newsroom for the first time since the February board turnover. In its essence, the room looked the same. The walls of the office were the same vibrant blue they were at the beginning of the year, the tables still in the same long configuration. The computers still inhabited their usual spots, and the distinctive smell of old newsprint, stale coffee and pizza and damp walls remained.

Of course, little things had changed, but it was not these changes that disconcerted me or made me feel like a stranger, as I immediately did upon entering the basement hideaway. I realized that all along, it hadn’t been about The Phillipian or the newsroom. It was about the people that filled the newsroom, the people that made the playlists, ate the donuts, sat on the couches, painted the watercolor pictures on late night break and fanned the server when InDesign crashed in the middle of finishing “State of the Academy.” And these very people were gone, replaced by another set of closely-knitted individuals who would no doubt grow to form the same bonds as I had with my board.

At the end of the day, a part of me will always belong at Andover, but Andover cannot ever be home because the people I loved here are moving on and will continue to move on. This school, now nearly 250 years old, is not permanent for me or for you; you cannot own it the way you own a home. There were hundreds of classes before the Class of ’14, and there will be hundreds of classes after us. We are not unique. Of course, the narrative of our time here is different from the Class of 1914’s or the Class of 1814’s, but in a lot of ways, we are not singular. There is no permanence about people; they change and leave. Nothing can be the same as it was at any specific, beautiful moment.

_Natalie Kim is a four-year Senior from Newton, Mass., and a Copy Editor for _The Phillipian_ CXXXVI._