Goodbye, Hauppauge

Emily Kelly.  That’s my name.  Super common and about as unoriginal as it gets, but it’s mine.

Gull Drive.  The name of my street- the short but hilly road that holds my house and an abundance of childhood memories.  I share it with my family, the rest of my neighbors, but it’s still my home.

UCLA.  The name of my college.  The place where I’ll be spending the next four years, moving all the way across the country.  Over 32,000 undergraduates, so my going there is nothing unique, but it’s my school nonetheless.

Names are quite crazy, aren’t they?  Just a few random letters thrown together that define something for its entire existence.  Shakespeare would probably argue that names have little significance, since the actual item, person, or place still holds its value and significance no matter what we call it.

I would have to disagree.  Yes, names are, in theory, just a word or phrase that is used to reference something or someone.  But there is so much power in a name.  It evokes emotions, feelings, and memories, all associated with the name we’re saying.  Yes, a rose called by any other name probably would smell just as sweet (had to include the best quote from Romeo and Juliet), but the identity of the rose is tied to its name.  So yes, Emily Kelly would be the same Emily Kelly if her name was something else.  But my identity, who I am, all of my experiences and triumphs and failures and memories, all of the things that make me who I am are tied to it.

So what about Hauppauge?  I guess I could say that it’s just a school district, the name of the place I’ve come to for the past 13 years to learn.  But that would just diminish the impact that Hauppauge has had on me.  It’s my hometown, the place where I grew up, met friends, made so many of my memories.  It’s the team we cheer on at sports games, the homecoming we attend, the community we work to better.  It’s the place where we learn, challenge ourselves, join new clubs, explore our passions.  It’s the school that got me to where I am today, helped me get into college and pursue my dream of going out West.

If I’m being honest, there are so many things I’m excited to leave behind when I go away to school, combined with the excitement I feel towards exploring a whole different city and meeting new people.  We all have bad memories, problems tied to the place we’re from or the people we met there, and starting somewhere new can help lessen those struggles.  But that doesn’t mean I want to leave Hauppauge behind.  The school, teachers, friends, family, community- all are a part of the Hauppauge I want to keep with me.  All of us have places important to us that we must leave behind, but what we keep is the person we became in that place.  The things I’ve learned, sports I’ve played, subjects I’ve studied, hobbies I’ve explored, all of these things that began with Hauppauge will continue to live on with me wherever I go.  And I think that’s why I’m so okay with moving far away; I am more than ecstatic to go to California not only because it has always been a dream of mine, but because I do not feel tied down to Hauppauge.  I know that Hauppauge is more than just a place, and it’s with me wherever I go.  These past 18 years here in Hauppauge have shaped who I am, my values, and my dreams for the future, and I will forever hold this place in my heart.  Because Hauppauge is more than just a name of a town or school- it’s my childhood, my education, my academic and social interests, my friends and family, my hobbies and interests, and most importantly, my home.