A/N: This is not a blog post saying that I will never return. It’s just a blog post about accepting the face I will never return to Young Harris as a student, I’ll just return as a visitor. I suppose that this is a farewell to a place that holds the largest chunk of my heart. I struggle with change, even more so when I love the place I am leaving to go to someplace else. Although, I have officially been a Nighthawk now at UNG for a full year, my heart has stayed Mountain Lion purple through and through. It’s time to say goodbye to the place that gave me the best year and a half of my life. It’s time to be okay with starting someplace new and allowing myself to let new people in. It’s time for me to realize that by doing so I am not betraying the friends I made during my time at Young Harris, nor am I disregarding the memories I made either. I will always feel most at home in that little valley. I came there as a child who had the highest hopes for herself, no real clue of the world, and an itch to get away from her hometown. I found several things in that valley. I found friends that will last a lifetime. I found sisters. Somehow, during all of that I ended up finding me.
I have fond memories of Young Harris College.
Staying up late during the weekdays knowing I had eight a.m. classes just to drink a bottle of wine with my friends that we had snuck into our dorms with our fake ids. I had some of the best conversations over those bottles of wine. I shared secrets over those bottles of wine and forged solid friendships too.
Going to parties in the middle of nowhere and getting so intoxicated (sorry mom) with my friends and laughing like there was no tomorrow. I honestly could not even tell you if I was drunk from the alcohol or drunk off the happiness I felt. It was my place. Those were my people.
Twelve o’clock Taco Bell trips blasting Today’s Hits as loud as the speakers could go with the windows down. I felt invincible. I felt high on life.
It’s been over a year since my last time experiencing any of that. It’s been so long to the point it feels like it might have all been a dream.
I never had any qualms about leaving my hometown. Even when I go back now, I still tell my mom how much I miss it and would love to stay, but I know that there is nothing in that town for me anymore. Everything I could have learned from Griffin, Georgia has already been learned. The only thing tethering me to that town is my family. Without that I am unsure if I would ever return.
Young Harris was different though. It was not my first pick college and if we want to be perfectly honest I should have never ended up there in the first place. My mom wanted me to apply to the local colleges in my hometown and with my wanting to go off to college I was not going to let that happen. So, by the time deadlines for applications happened I had only applied to Young Harris. I never had a backup plan if it did not pan out, but it did. So, by the time I graduated I was already packing my life up to head three hours north to the north Georgia mountains to the little town of Young Harris.
Young Harris is small and most people have never heard of it. It has exactly one red light, but I fell in love with it. The second I toured that campus and set foot on its soil, I knew it was where I was supposed to be. I felt like I was destined my entire life to end up there. I could feel the memories I would soon make swarm around me. They call the valley enchanted and I know now that it is, however, it also became my home.
I was there for a year and a half, and it was the best time of my life. I met my best friend’s Sarah and Ashley there. Ashley shares my love of true crime documentaries, hiking, adventures, and shit talking. While Sarah is one of the most genuinely nicest people I have ever known. She keeps me grounded, and shares in every accomplishment I make like it’s her own. Young Harris is also where I met my BIG Emily. Emily, is the other half of my soul. Emily kept me wild. She reminded me when I needed to put serious Kaley aside and remember to live. Emily is the reason I view time as so precious. She took care of me like her own child and was never hesitant when it came to defending me. Emily is my person. I met my littles there. Sarah and Morgan. I’ve never had more fun at a McDonalds with any two other people than I did the first night I met them. I knew from the second I talked to them, they were supposed to be my little ones. I’ve never felt more protective of two people than I do with them. I would cross the world to come to their defense. The nights we went in my room (me, Emily, Sarah, and Morgan) will forever be some of my favorite times and memories I made at Young Harris.
Young Harris gave me the best possible gift I never could have expected. It gave me friends that will be in my life for the long run and I can’t ever put a price on that. Young Harris gave me memories that can get me through the worst days, memories that I could live on for a lifetime.
I will forever be grateful for that.
Even though I am someplace new, I will always remember and love my time spent in my little mountain valley. While I am not particularly fond of UNG’s campus there are an abundance of people – and friendships to be made. Perhaps, even more lessons to be learned, secrets to be shared, and memories to be made.
With a heart full of Mountain Lion purple & Nighthawk blue and gold,