I knew I loved Duke before this. I came home over Thanksgiving break and constantly received the classic, "How's school?! Do you love it?!" questions. And I knew I wasn't lying when I responded with a wholehearted yes and a big smile.
I became used to meeting with friends in my International Relations class for breakfast to go over the news before our infamous "New York Times Quiz" with Dr. Feaver. I ordered the same omelette every morning at marketplace, smiling at the same people. I ran into friends on the C1 eager for a conversation. I enjoyed my classes and professors and felt properly challenged by my academic pursuits. Although I was seemingly running around with no chance to breathe, I loved my extracurriculars and could not bear the idea of stopping any of them. The best part of my day would be returning to Gilbert-Addoms, catching up with my friend on the first floor, then my friend on the second floor and finally returning to my single on the third floor where I usually opened my door to find one or two friends snacking on my bed. Sometimes this tended to end up being six or seven people. This didn't exactly lead to a conducive work environment per se, but nothing made me happier. Yes, I was probably overworked and stressed all the time, but I was genuinely joyful and content.
Given the above, I knew I loved Duke before we couldn't return. But I was too "in it" to truly understand. When I received the email we wouldn't be coming back to campus, I felt my heart had been ripped out of my body. I felt like I was losing a part of myself. I replayed all the moments I had and thought how I wouldn't be able to hug my friends for potentially six months. All the goodbyes and people I didn't get to tell how important they were to me. I had found myself at Duke.
And don't get me wrong, I was lucky enough to enjoy high school, but Duke was already my home. I've never felt this strongly about a place and all of its people before. At first, I found myself sad about missing Duke. But then it clicked. It was beautiful that I missed Duke this much, that I connected to people enough that I found it wrenching to leave them. I try to focus on this now.
Lana Gesinsky is a Trinity first-year.