The very first thing I packed to move into college was my envelope stuffed full of sleek, freshly printed photos and a still-coiled string of fairy lights. I had almost no idea what I wanted my freshman year dorm to look like, but even in the summer, a good few months before move-in day, I knew that it wouldn’t feel quite like my home without all my photos hung on the walls.
I arrived at Haggin Hall in August all set to start unpacking my entire life into one corner of a dorm room, and in the midst of my emotional turmoil from leaving my family members one by one, my pets and my hometown all in one morning, I found myself gripping my photos like a vise. These were thoughts that I could control, fond memories of people and places I knew I would miss but would not have to fully leave behind once I arrived in Lexington as long as I could hold snapshots of them in my hand. Seeing the smiling faces of my friends and family gave me the strength I needed to take a step into my new life and begin my foray into the real world (or at least my new bedroom).
For the next three days, I spent every free minute I could spare methodically pasting Command hooks on the walls behind my bed (and subsequently waiting for an hour in agony as they set up), pulling rows and rows of lights taught along the space and finally sorting through my ninety photo prints to clip each one in the perfect spot. When I first switched the twinkle lights on, exhausted from dawn-to-dusk days spent trekking around my new school, the grin that spread across my face was uncontainable. Now, every time I look into my bedroom, I see so many familiar faces from my life before college here with me, pushing me on, as well as all the places and moments we shared that helped define my life until UK.
Even though these nostalgic images may represent a bygone chapter of my life, the stories from my past have shaped me into the person I am today, zestful for every small experience worth documenting in my new home. The next part of my story here in college is a time to start fresh and accomplish bigger and better things than what I’ve photographed before, and the truth is, while my wall of photos may already seem full, there will always be more room for new memories to squeeze in alongside the old.