A staredown with adulthood

When the song came on, it caught me unawares.

My friend Celia says packing is always depressing. According to her, internal packing dialogue goes something like: “Hmm, guess I’ll get rid of my school supplies because I’m entering the Real World. Oh yes, time to take down the memory board with grinning faces of friends from college past.” From experience, she’s pretty much right.

But I needed to start. The sheer number of things I’ve accumulated during my three years here makes packing a daunting business. The song came on though, and I had to stop. It’s difficult to pack through tears.

I’m not even sure what song it was. I was sifting through a new playlist from Rob and paying no attention to warning signs such as soft acoustic guitars, minor keys and mournful lyrics. (I have since determined the most likely culprit to be “Year of the Dragon.”)

The point isn’t the song — it’s my reaction to it. There are lots of chances for existential crises while you pack your entire life into boxes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for the future. I have nothing but great adventures in great cities to look forward to (#blessed). I made the decision to graduate in three years and stuck to it. At times, though, I can’t help but feel short-changed.

I knew neither aforementioned Celia nor aforementioned Rob until this year. Nor did I know Rachel, ColetteVeronicaMadeline, Daisy, Madeline, Jessie, Nassim, Brad, Ciara, Steph, etc. etc. It’s a strange sensation: meeting people you instantly click with and then, just as suddenly, having to say goodbye.

There are iconic places in Columbia I’ve never been. I’ve tried to bully just about everyone in my contacts list into coming to the Pinnacles with me… and Piano and Stephens Lake Park and the Diner and the farmer’s market and and and. Suddenly I’m a tourist in my own tiny town making a last-ditch effort to cram in activities before departure.

Goodbyes are difficult, and my fondness for this place and these people caught me unawares. Just like that dumb song.

Regret caught me unawares, too, and the feeling that I wish I maybe had a few more weeks in Como. For those of us soon to be scattered cross-country, regret is as real an emotion as giddy excitement. There’s no shame in letting it wash over you.

When the song is over, though, stop crying. Keep packing. Move on.

A staredown with adulthood

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