Leaving my home state made me finally appreciate it

By Tyler Bui | Opinion Editor

Moving away from home made me realize how much I love my home state.

I was lucky enough to grow up in the same house in Massachusetts my whole childhood. I got to play in the same backyard, hang out with the same friends and walk my dog around the same cul-de-sac from the day I was born to age 17. It was comfortable and familiar — I never had to worry about my home ever changing.

Then came my freshman year, when I moved from Massachusetts all the way to Texas and my parents got divorced. My mom moved to Florida, and my dad moved to a new city in Massachusetts. But I still had my “home.” While my dad’s new house looked different, the interior had all the familiar furniture and decorations, and my friends were still a short drive away.

It wasn’t until junior year when I lost my sense of “home.” My dad married my stepmom and moved to California to be with the rest of my family. I was not only happy for my Dad, but I had always pictured myself living in California after graduation — it was new and exciting. But after moving and spending my summer there, I finally realized how much I missed my home state.

To be honest, I didn’t expect myself to miss Massachusetts too much. It was too cold in the winters, and I lived too far from the coast to consider Massachusetts a “beachy” state — and going to the beach is one of my favorite things to do.

But I thought wrong.

Massachusetts was so much more than a state to me. It was my home, my roots, my community.

I miss going to Friendly’s after a long day at the barn. I miss being able to hang out with friends whenever I wanted. I miss seeing the same familiar faces at the family-owned restaurants I used to frequent. I miss going to Boston and seeing all the diversity.

The state itself has a special culture, and experiencing both Texas and California made me feel so much more grateful to have grown up with the people I was surrounded by. Massachusetts, and especially my high school, both pride themselves on being inclusive and diverse, so moving to a more conservative state was a big shock and adjustment.

Spending most of my time in two states where the cultures are significantly different made me realize that I had taken for granted a lot of special things Massachusetts has to offer. I didn’t expect the culture and values to vary so much from state to state. The people are genuine, accepting and supportive in Massachusetts — and I don’t feel the same sense of statewide community where I live now.

But most importantly, I miss the people that made home feel like “home.” I have spent the past 17 years of my life riding horses, and with that I made so many friends that were scattered throughout the state. I got so used to seeing my school friends during the day, hanging out with barn friends in the afternoon and seeing other horse friends on the weekends at competitions. My friends, my competitors and my coaches all became my second family — and I feel like a part of me is missing without them.

I’ve found an amazing group of friends at school and get to be surrounded by my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents at home in California. It has definitely been an adjustment, but I’ve learned to love my new home as it is. Massachusetts will always have a big piece of my heart, and I can’t wait to visit sometime soon.