students by Baw Beese Lake

Summer in Hillsdale

Home, Here

Written by Elizabeth Vietor

My heart sank when I first stepped through the front door of the house I planned to rent for the summer in Hillsdale. Piles of books and empty soda cans littered the living room floor, used dishes covered the sticky surface of a table, and, to crown it all, a bag of stale McDonald’s occupied the center of the couch. It’s going to be a long summer, I thought.

Fortunately, the house wasn’t bad once my roommate and I cleaned it. The staircase was narrow and the basement was creepy, but these details added to the charm. And my bedroom had a window that faced the street and got so much brilliant afternoon sunlight that the walls would stay toasty all night. I invested a lot of time and effort into a creaky old house that was, after all, just a seasonal rental. As an inevitable result, it became a central part of my summer months in Hillsdale.

Most days, I would pack a lunch, go to my job in the College’s Alumni Office, and walk home in time to read in the afternoon while sunning myself on the porch. Evenings would consist of taking long walks with my roommate (especially since it stayed light until 10pm!) or sitting in the living room and figuring out how to accompany ourselves with a guitar and drum. It felt like the predictability and routine of high school without the adolescent angst. It felt oddly like living at home—the place where I grew up.

What made this experience unique is that it occurred at Hillsdale, not home. The rhythm of returning to a house every afternoon centered my existence within a physical space that I cared about–my own house. My identity and creativity came to be linked to a place that I could care for and return to, predictably, every day. My mind was no longer preoccupied about where I would be every minute of the day, and was instead free to reflect on my interests and goals.

When I realized that Hillsdale could offer the same space and stability as home, these worlds merged a little. True, over the summer I had significantly fewer commitments than I do over the school year, but even now as the semester intensifies I take comfort in the thought that I am the same person “up the hill” as I am at home. All it took was a free summer and a house in Hillsdale.

Elizabeth Vietor, ’20, is a Latin major with an affinity for thrift shops, butter, and scrunchies. She hails from Phoenix, Arizona, originally, but now that she’s here, doesn’t know how she existed for so long without seeing the leaves change every fall.

Published in November 2019