“No, I didn’t have any problems adjusting to college.”
“Really? …Really?” She is taunting me, I think. Or maybe she can already read me after only 15 minutes. “Almost everyone goes through a difficult transition at that time.”
“Well, I had just gone through a really big breakup. So yeah, I was sad. But I knew the reason, and it made sense, so it was okay.”
It also caused me to shut myself off from everyone and consider transferring to the state school. But I don’t say this. Even at $110 an hour, for reasons I can’t explain, I am still censoring myself.
“You have more difficulty dealing with change than most people,” she concludes not long after.
At first I protest, but upon quick reflection, this is pretty accurate. I was a mess both leaving for and coming back from my study abroad. I spent a lot of my first six months in Houston crying on the phone. There are always reasons, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.
“But you’re going to be fine,” she says. I am less than reassured.
Yesterday was the official first day of my indefinite vacation-sabbatical. My watch is stolen and we pull a Taylor Swift in which there is drinking and yelling and running off and a few tears… and you, telling me for the first time that I am your best friend in the entire world.
I am trying to start adapting better. But while I am accepting the change in my relationship with time—I am boycotting buying a new watch—I am just not ready when it comes to us. Not yet.
On Saturday, we went to go buy you a new washing machine. Probably the oddest thing about this is that neither of us considered running this errand together to be odd.
Afterward, you—a responsible, new homeowner—confide that you feel like a terrible grown-up because you don’t know how to do certain domestic things on your own, like buy a new washing machine.
I—an impulsive, newly jobless traveler—respond that I feel like a terrible grown-up because I don’t have an Emergency Contact who lives in the same city as me.
“I think about that,” you tell me. “When you go off the grid, I realize that I would be the first one to figure out you were missing.”
I pause, because you are right. And while I already have been secretly putting you down as my Emergency Contact for the past year, I never thought about it like that. And I definitely never thought that you thought about it like that.
So really, we are both wrong because we have each other. Together, we are probably as grown up as we can be when our average age is 25.
The question is: what happens to us when that changes?
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near–
“Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.”
“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you…”
“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
“But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.
“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
“Then it has done you no good at all!”
“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.”
These are the days—the unplanned, insignificant, wasteful hours full of jokes and glances and heartfelt admissions—that I wish I could memorize and re-live forever and ever. I am leaving, but you will always, always be in my heart.
Yesterday my car got broken into and my bag was stolen.
It sucks, but really the only loss that aches is a card from my old roommate and all my passport stamps from study abroad (because yes, of course I happened to be carrying my passport).
Today, on my way to meet friends at an Astros game, a group of people gave me their extra ticket while I was standing in line to buy mine.
And while a $17 baseball ticket isn’t exactly equivalent to a $104 window replacement or the hassle of ordering a new passport, it made me stop and realize just how lucky I am.
I am lucky to be surrounded by people who love me, who text and call and write when I am sad. Lucky to have places to go to hang out on weeknights and to know that I always have Sunday dinner plans.
Lucky to have had the opportunity to live in and fall in love with four different cities already, leaving me with friends around the globe. Lucky to have had the chance to teach and fall in love with 400 amazing children. Lucky to have had my words published in so many different capacities.
Lucky to have time and money and health and skills and trust and bravery.
I’ve worked hard for it, and my life is far from perfect, but I am so lucky—sometimes I just need a little reminder.
I have had a lot of time to think lately, which has been kind of terrifying, actually.
Uncertainty is not a good look on me–and yes, I know that uncertainty is exactly what I have to look forward to for the entirety of next year, so please stop pointing that out to me because “you must do the thing you think you cannot do“ …right?
School ends this week, and so do the beginnings of my goodbyes. I am vacillating between getting the hell out of Houston as soon as the last bell rings, and holding on long into the sticky summer heat. Neither seem like great options right now.
I am becoming an expert at defense mechanisms—mine, and everyone else’s. Objectively, I am amazed by what the heart, and mind, and body can think up in order to protect itself from loss. Emotionally, this is what is killing me most. I have never been more aware of the love that surrounds me here, and this is the one thing that gives me pause.
Though, really, perhaps the only thing that I am still certain of (and always really have been, if I’m being completely honest) is my choice to leave. I am going. Even if I still don’t know when or where or how or why.