Homecomings

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This past weekend, I was lucky enough to participate in two homecomings–one in which I actually went back to my hometown in Orange County, and one back at my alma mater, the University of San Diego (USD).  It was a weekend I desperately needed to bring me back to center, ground down, and remind myself of my roots.

My big brother (Adrian, or so I call him Kuya), who now lives in San Francisco, went back home for the weekend to run the Long Beach Half Marathon, and since today is his birthday–happy birthday, big brother!–my cousins and I celebrated his 28th few days early with dinner at The Cannery in Newport Beach.  My visit back was a perfect one; I rarely go home and seeing my cousins and my adorable niece Aubrey was truly a highlight.  While I didn’t get to see my parents as they are off gallivanting through France and Switzerland, drinking vino and eating their way through Italy, and riding camels in Dubai, I got my taste of home with the time I spent with my relatives, my 12 mile run through my hometown, and bites of some of my favorite foods.

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Left – One of views during 12 miles back home . Top right – Enjoying Confetti Italian Ice & Custard . Bottom right – “What ‘chu lookin’ at?!”

My visit was short-lived; I headed back to San Diego late Saturday afternoon to join my friends for USD’s Homecoming Weekend.  While I have continued to call San Diego home after graduation and USD is only a 10-15 minute drive from my apartment, the weekend was a different kind of homecoming, one in which reunions, hugs, and squeals of excitement over the sight of old friends were plentiful.

My old roommate Katie and I headed over to the Beachcomber on Saturday night where we were greeted with many familiar faces of old friends and past classmates.  Being back at that bar with everyone? It felt like a night in college all over again, only a year and a half post-graduation.  (Has it really been that long?)  On Sunday morning, I joined my friends again for the Homecoming and Family Weekend Mass at Founders Chapel.  Monsignor Dillabough’s homily focused on gratitude and throughout the entire mass, that is what I felt.  I was so grateful to be sitting in church with my old friends, Mackenzie, Tom, Luke, Kenny, Eddie, and Alex.  I was so grateful to hear my friend Tracy’s beautiful voice as she sang a verse during mass.  I was so grateful to be able to have had the opportunity to break bread with the community that brought me closer to the church.

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Seeing Mackenzie really made my weekend.  This girl is incredibly inspirational and hearing about her current time at Homeboy Industries is a testament to her strength.

The rest of Sunday was filled with a University Ministry brunch (with even more reunions!), a trip to a bar at the beach, sitting around Kenny and Eddie’s house in North Park, dinner at Hodad’s, and sitting at the boys’ house again only to eat ice cream out of the carton.  My original plans for the day, which included yoga and a run, were foregone and I relished my time in community.

I left North Park for home feeling nostalgic.  I said my goodbyes and snapped back to reality, but reminded myself of the homily I heard earlier about gratitude.  My weekend spent in Orange County and in San Diego brought me home.  My friends and family–they have helped shape me, and of course that is why I felt a bit sad with the weekend’s closure.  How lucky was I to have had this time to share with them, when not many can say they have?  They are my home.

A huge thanks and big hug to everyone I saw this weekend!

Janine

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