A Year That Melted Away

533549_10151615126213504_200884615_nIt seems like it was just yesterday when I awoke to sheer terror. The sun was still only a hazy promise; a promise that within an hour or two the sky would be filled with light. As I stepped out my front door, the chilly summer morning air greeted all parts of my body that were not covered by my light T-shirt or knee-length shorts. I welcomed it. It was the familiar nippy early morning summer air that seemed to be the only thing staying constant in my life as I prepared to head toward a year of uncertainties and firsts. I stepped into my Mother’s car with my brother and his girlfriend, slammed the door shut and drove toward my future; my new home for the next four years. It could have been the best decision of my life, or maybe it could have been the worst. All I knew was that I knew nothing. I just didn’t know; and no one else did either. No college movie or show ever prepares you for the real thing, and no good words from close friends and family can quell the emotions of emptiness, anxiety, and worry mixing in your stomach. In a short car ride and some quick goodbyes, I would be off on my own. Alone. Alone and unprepared.

644343_3504463304413_1838216618_nThe first few days were frightening. I seemed to have way more questions than answers. Who was my friend? Who would I go get lunch with? And dinner? Maybe I can just skip this meal if I can’t find someone to go with, but oh my lord, I am so hungry that I think my stomach is eating itself. Wow, look at all these people I don’t know, will I ever know them? Will these strangers ever turn into something more than just a person walking through campus. Will they turn into a handshake, a smile, a “hello,” or maybe some of these faces will turn into a greeting with a hug, but who is who? Am I ever going to fit into this sea of faces? Will I ever make it here?

I definitely made it here. I made this unfamiliar place home.

Familiar faces began appearing in the crowds. I found my circle of friends, the people who I will either form closer bonds with over the next four years, or the people who I will slowly drift apart from, but I still found friends. These were people who needed me just as much as I needed them. We were all lonely, and loneliness can only be cured when two people open themselves up to let others into their lives. We found that loneliness could only be healed by risk; good thing we were all 223046_4602009736826_1552541280_ngamblers.

I fell into the rhythm of college life. Going home to the place where I lived for 17 years now seemed more foreign to me than my home at school. Weekends spent home became weekends yearning to get back to Connecticut. Weekends that I would bide my time as I waited to be back in my other home.

There were days when I began to forget that I was at school. It was just too much fun. Sure, I did all my work and went to all my classes, but as soon as class was over, my worries were left behind in that classroom along with the projectors, the desks that are almost too small to fit a laptop and the pungent smell of dry-erase markers. Leaving class just to go back to my room to be 485083_10151158932112185_996743725_nsurrounded by good friends, better music and whatever stupid show we were watching on TV. This was school, but at the same time it almost had the feel of a summer camp. The work was difficult at times, but it was never not worth it. My friends made this all worth it.

As the year passed, I began to comprehend the terminologies on campus. I know what the rat is, I know that the food in the cafe is “wicked” awful and I personally know what it means to “mount the bobcat.” I began to understand the lay-of-the-land. Tator hall, that was a seven minute walk. CAS, now that’s a hike; give yourself at least ten minutes, kid. School of communications? I bet you could make it there in under ten. A class in the school of law? Definitely a 12 minute walk, maybe you should pack a lunch for the road.

385188_498235870226458_954494772_nI learned that what is good for me, is definitely not good for everyone. Not everyone had the same experience that I have had this year. It’s not that they did anything wrong, and it’s certainly not that they didn’t try. Maybe this just was not home to them. It is hard to make a place home if it just isn’t meant to be home. Where some find gold, others find coal; what’s good for some is not great for all. And life will go on for these people, they will learn from this mistake. Next year might be one spent closer to home, or it may be one spent in that once place that deep down they always knew they should have gone to for college. This place could be in the woods of Vermont, the cities of New York, Boston or Chicago, or maybe it is that SEC powerhouse football school rooted in the deep south. There is a place for everyone, and if this place was not it, it just means that this was just a stepping stone on the way to a future that is still waiting to be uncovered. A future that I’m sure we will all undoubtably find.

943310_10151464404467198_246807566_nEverything always works out somehow. It’s just how it is. If this year wasn’t your year, next year will be. If this place wasn’t home, next year can bring a nice new change of scenery; another chance to unpack and find a home. A place where you find that you are so excited for the future, but are so happy with the current situation that you also dread the future. The future becomes bittersweet because the moment is just too surreal. The moment is too beautiful.

That’s how it has been for me.

19211_595911120425989_1279435638_nSo as I say goodbye to my first year in college, I can say that, “yes I did make it.” So I made it to college and I also made it through; at least one year, that is. I’ve certainly changed. I am a different person than who I was stepping out of Momma’s car late in August. I still look the same, I still smell the same (by the way Mom, I definitely need more soap) and I still sound the same, but I am definitely different. I have seen that there is so much more out there in this world that I have often heard is so vast. My mind has been opened up to  new points of view, my mind has accepted new outlooks and I have crafted some of them as my own. I have met people with their own demons, their own ghosts and their own challenges. I have begun to confront my own demons, too. I have come to understand my strengths and weaknesses, and have realized that everybody has those too.

I better understand people, better understand myself and better understand this world. Mostly, I understand

208829_10200847971426205_488830485_nthat I really don’t understand much.

To put it simple, college has been great. Not just good, but great. I still have three more years. Three more great years.

So let’s go, I’m excited to see where we all end up.

 

 

 

 

There’s Nothing but Goodbyes

“It’s so hard to leave – until you leave. And then it’s the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”- John Green, Paper Towns

At this time of summer, it is inevitable for those who are going to be incoming freshman in college that this will be the time that goodbyes will need to be said. Although many of my past posts have been somewhat sarcastic and a little less expressive, there is no easy way for me to look past this with a showing of sarcasm and being nonchalant. This is it as far as my old life is concerned. This is that moment when shear terror accompanied with an equal amount of unbridled excitement arises. It is where the realization of an imminent future coming into view over the horizon, and the shadowy reaches of the past is beginning to engorge all that I used to know and hold so dearly. Its not that my whole world will be turned head-over-heels, it is that the way of life that I have been so accustomed to living will just abruptly end just as it had begun. When this summer ends I will not only be saying goodbye to some of the most influential people that I have met in my life to this point, I will also be saying goodbye to life as I knew it, a life that i learned to love and enjoy. Leaving is like a quote, movie, or piece of art because its’ meaning changes with each person it comes into contact with. Some see leaving as an escape, while others see leaving with painful dissatisfaction, and then for others, they at first see it as nothing and then realize the implications that their decision had years down the road.

I still vaguely remember the first time in my life when I had to say goodbye to a certain life style that I had become accustomed to living. At the time, I had no idea that it was the first time I had to cope with change. At the time, I was only a strapping young lad of about three years old. I was shy, quiet and nervous, all adjectives that have become the opposite of the person I currently am. I can remember the first day of preschool like it was yesterday. It was the first time in my life that I had to say goodbye to the normal swing of things and welcome in a new life style. I remember crying and screaming while I desperately tried holding onto my Mother’s leg on the first day of school. The idea of some sort of change must have been a bitter and hard thing for my young mind to comprehend. At the end of the day, however, it was an adjustment that I could make, and it became the life that I have been so helplessly accustomed to for the past fifteen years.

Fifteen years later, I find myself in a similar situation. I may not be clinging to Mommy or Daddy, but I am left in a situation where I find myself in a place where all I can do is brace myself for the goodbyes. Not only am I leaving my old way of life behind, I am leaving some people behind that I have maybe just taken for granted over the past years. Some may sit here thinking that it isn’t goodbye for good, and to that I say that it is goodbye to the way things used to be. I have become so enveloped in my day-to-day endeavors over the years that I have sometimes neglected to realize all the different people I have consistently had in my life. So many common faces in school that I have seen 180 days a year for years on end will no longer be those friendly faces that greet me in the hallway. They may not have played a particularly big impact in my life, but at the same time, they have been there through it all with you, whether you have realized it or not.

Also, it means saying goodbye to the people in your life that you may have just been getting to know. There are always people going in and out of your life, some people just seem to come into your life at the wrong time. It becomes the classic case of being the right people, but just at the wrong time. It leaves a feeling of uneasiness in your stomach as you continually search the depths of your imagination for the possibilities and what-ifs. It is a feeling that can eat away at you and can leave you continually questioning. In the end though, I believe that I have found solstice in myself, knowing that with all the what-ifs comes the reality of it all, and what ever is meant to be is meant to be because the ones that are meant to stick around will be the ones who find their way back into your life.

Then there are those friends that you have met along the way that you still cannot foresee living without. Friends that have known every infinitesimal detail about your life. The kids who pick you up when it all falls apart and those who are right by your side when you feel like you are at the pinnacle of it all. These are the kids that I have grown up with playing sports. We were with each other to feel the despair of defeat but also there to feel the triumphs of victory. Our relationships have stretched so far beyond the sports field and many of these kids are the ones that I can call my best friends. I have gotten to know so many in such varied ways, but there is no denying that each of them has impacted me in different ways. These are the friends that although I know I will continue to see, it is still painful to know that things will never be the same.

More importantly, this is the time where you have to say goodbye to your family. These are the people that you have spent more time with than anyone else in the world. As well as your best friends may think they know you, there is absolutely no one in the world that knows or understands you better than your own family. The familiarity of spending lazy nights at home with your family will be a luxury that can only be offered when you are home from school. Home cooked meals will be replaced with mass-produced food that is made for no one in particular. More importantly, I believe I will be missing the little things that have come to bother me a little at home. I will no longer be told to take out the garbage or mow the lawn. I won’t have to wake up and clean the house before I go out to begin my day. The teeny-tiny things that I have known so well will be the things that I will not have while I was away. Although where my family is will still be my home, I’m going to have to see this home in a different way than I have ever needed to, a way that is difficult to imagine.

So when you are saying goodbye to those around you when you are leaving for college, remember that you are not only saying goodbye to them. It is the time when you are saying goodbye to the way things used to be. It is saying goodbye to life as you know it. At the same time you are also welcoming in a new way of life, a life that you will eventually learn to relish. As humans we have been brought up to fear change, but throughout history it has been apparent that progress is only discovered through change. So as I say goodbye, I will also be sure to be saying hello, hello to new things and new opportunities that although intimidating at first, will be the kind of change that I will look back to be glad that I undertook. As you say goodbye, I ask you, what is it that you will be missing most?

Cheers,

Andy

“The snake that cannot cast its’ skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.”- Friedrich Nietzsche