Brutal honesty in three, two…
“Why are you so tired?”
I could answer that question a hundred different ways. I’ve usually answered it as “Didn’t sleep well,” which is almost always true, because I don’t tend to sleep well. Go figure.
A more recent answer, in jest, has been “I have an incurable disease.” This is true. Crohn’s sucks. It makes me sleep worse than I did before and need more sleep even when I sleep well. I constantly feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. Not by a middle-schooler. I’m talking a full-grown man draws back and just fires at my solar plexus. My chest feels tight. If I eat the wrong things, I might be pretty much out of commission the whole day.
That’s how I feel on good days.
I’m leaving for college next Tuesday, the 23rd. I’ll be going to Ohio. I’ve lived in Tennessee for the last seven years, almost on the dot – I moved in August of 2009. I lived in Baltimore before. Then, I didn’t want to leave. Now, I do, but it’s not because I dislike Tennessee. Kind of the opposite. I didn’t apply to any Tennessee schools, because I felt like I needed to leave and go out on my own, really on my own.
I made that decision before I knew I had Crohn’s.
Needless to say, having something like Crohn’s is a heckuva handicap. It makes just thinking hard some days, and I’m leaving to go to college – what was I thinking?
That’s the mess going through my head these days, this last week of life in Tennessee before I go off to become a college student. I chose to leave so that I wouldn’t have a safety net, but now I might need it. I might need it not because I’ll just fail on my own but because I’m physically handicapped.
I’m going to be honest. It’s intimidating.
The thing is that I don’t believe I’m going to fail. I think I have what it takes to figure out adult life. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have chosen to move eight hours from home in the first place. I chose the adulting version of jumping into a cold pool without doing more than putting my toe in first. I’m currently at the point where a friend is in the pool telling me to jump in, it’ll be great, it’s fine, but I stuck my toe in and it felt cold so I’m second-guessing myself.
That’s where I am.
I’ve been turning on Eminem way too loud in my headphones lately. I’ve been pacing around my neighborhood catching Pokemon. I’ve been doing everything but focusing on the fact that I’m leaving this place because when I do it feels overwhelming. I haven’t once questioned my college choice – it’s definitely the right place for me – but it’s the idea of leaving itself that bothers me. It’s like people who don’t want to say goodbye because then they don’t have to confront leaving.
It’s a huge realization that there are probably people I know who I’ve already seen in person for the last time, there are places I’ve been for the last time, and things I’ve done for the last time.
I realize, though, that this makes me sound depressed. I’m not. I’m just grappling with a new reality before it actually exists.
Call it grieving. That seems a little extreme, but that’s probably the most accurate thing. I’m gonna miss this place. It’s like preemptive homesickness. I know I’m going to want to come back to this place and these people. Grief is accurate because I’ve lost something – my life here.
I’m going to miss going to Carpe Cafe Friday mornings and writing. There’s an older-ish guy there (he was a conscientious objector during Vietnam, but I don’t know exactly how old he is) who would ask what I was writing. I’d be working on an essay, or a goofy novel idea that hasn’t gone anywhere. We talked about religion, politics, and other, random subjects. He did a lot more talking than I did. He was a bit of a dirty old man, and the staff would sometimes get annoyed with him. I’m going to miss that. It was amusing.
I’m going to miss karate on Tuesday nights. I went every night I could. I was so busy I missed two months this summer. I hate that that happened. I don’t often feel like I know what I’m doing. I’m not often in situations where I can genuinely learn from people I respect. Karate was that. I have friends from karate who I will, hopefully, be friends with for the rest of my life, however distant they are. I’m going to miss that.
I’m going to miss, believe it or not, high school. That’s a weird thing to admit.
I won’t miss math class. My teachers were good, but… I won’t miss math class.
The life I’ve lived for seven years, give or take, is gone. I’ve been an adult for months, but I’ve had the same structure, the same safety net, the same almost everything as before. I haven’t had to adult before. This is my reality. Whew.
Goodbye, childhood. Goodbye, Tennessee. It was fun while it lasted. But I’m leaving next week, and I won’t look back once I do.