I remember thinking, in the days leading up to high school graduation, that this was it. I would never come back here. My shadow would never darken the halls, my laughter and teenage angst would no longer fill them. I would never again see all of the spaces in the school that brought me comfort or reminded me of bad times. Never again would I run my fingers over the graffiti-covered tables in the vocational building. Never again would I run the track or race around the halls as I so often had. Never again would I stand on the balcony outside the cafeteria and wait for my crush as early morning light filled the courtyard and reflected off the windows of the school buses.
Similarly, I remember days leading up to college graduation, when I was stricken by a similar feeling. The “end of an era” feeling, the one that also contained hints of trepidation as I crossed into the unknown future. Part of me wanted to graduate; by that time, I was sick of writing papers, but at the same time, I knew I would miss it. In fact, I already missed the quiet “reading days” before exams, when I would wake up very early in the morning and go to the lounge above my dormitory (dubbed “the cloister”) just to write. I knew I would never again have that same purity of solitude.
The feeling came back again when I left my first “real-world” job in favor of the “better life” granted by a white collar job. I was there for only nine months, starting in August and ending in May, so it had that same “school year” feel. Hopefully, I would never again work in fast food, but I was grateful for the experience because it taught me more than I had learned in all my years of high school combined. The day after I left that job, I started my new job, where I am today. The world of fast food was so different from the world of office work that I felt like I was starting over again. The useless drama was gone. There was no clatter of pizza cutters and no messy soda spills and no customers threatening to come back with a gun if they didn’t get their discount.
The job is sterile. Everyone is just like me: quiet and reserved. If I pass someone in the hall, they do not regale me with stories of the sexual exploits they had over the weekend. “How are you?” “Good. And you?” “Fine.” And the occasional “Did you do anything fun this weekend?” “Yeah. I went to the art museum.” “Nice.” After working here five years, I have a strange feeling of simultaneous comfort and discomfort. It is my dream job. I sit at a desk all day and correct grammatical errors and meet my deadlines. I’m lucky if I speak to someone once a day. Ninety-five percent of communication is through email. No one reveals much about their life outside of work. Yet everyone is so quiet and calm that sometimes I want to scream and throw things in the air just to watch the chaos unfold that would have gone down at my old job every day.
Anyway, the real reason I write this post is because I am again at a turning point and moving out of my comfort zone. Today I’m getting married, which is still strange to me because I honestly never thought I would get married. But sometimes the person you are meant to be with just appears out of thin air. This is how life goes. This is growing up. This is change. I’m not whining that it will be hard because I know it will be hard. It will be fun and chaotic and quiet and calm and crazy and sad and happy and everything else because that is the nature of it. I have chosen, and I would make the same choice again if given the opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong. I am joyful and happy that I finally get to take this step—and I get to take it with my best friend at my side, which makes it that much better. But I am processing the fact that my house is now “my childhood home,” where I will return on occasion but never again lay my head down in. I am processing the fact that I have to do things as a true adult with no real oversight (except by the government, but that can’t be helped—they’re everywhere). But the most important thing to process is that it’s no longer just “me,” it’s “we.” And that will take a lot of getting used to! 🙂