My five month anniversary of living in DC is coming up at the end of June, and I am finally feeling comfortable in this not as humid, but still really humid, town. I have had a lot of great opportunities. There have been handfuls of people watching out for me, routing me on, pushing me to become better. Some of those handfulls even became my friends.
While I was home over Memorial Day, for my brothers graduation, I put my finger on what it really was about me leaving home, and leaving my family.
It was like I was never even there.
Every time I would leave home, pack up my stuff and head out, it was like I had never even been there. My wall color is now different, there is a different comforter on the bed, my collection of almost empty bottles of lotion sits on my night stand collecting dust, my mom stole my Cherry Blossom Scentsy…
I would come in with my suitcase full of clothes that used to hang in my closet. And every time I would leave with exactly what was in my suitcase. No more forgetting something, or not caring if I left it behind because I would be home next weekend. This past time, I left my room exactly how I had found it. As if it had been untouched.
Yes, a few dirt particles were lifted, I took a picture off the wall, but nobody would notice that but me. (and possibly my mother) That’s when it hit me. Yes, I missed my family terribly. Yes, I felt inaccessible at every single moment in time. Yes, I felt like I was missing out. But most of all, most of all, I felt like I just wasn’t there. Like if that room was mine long ago, and now it is filled with memories of the past, a past I am no longer “a part of” because I don’t live there anymore.
I left my house tracing the walls with my fingers. I was thinking of how my walls used to be purple, of exactly where my Keith Urban poster used to hang, and of every single way I have had my room rearranged. Soaking it up like the nostalgia would just somehow transcend into my finger tips so I could feel those walls whenever I closed my eyes. Hoping that when people walked into my room after I have left that they too remember my walls used to be purple, and how many posters I had covering every inch of wall space, and how completely ridiculous I was in rearranging my room.
My life has shifted.
It still hurts to think about how the things that are in my room here were once in my room down in North Carolina. I know exactly where everything would go if I ever moved back. There was an expected routine at home. The comfort of knowing somebody is there for you, always.
My handfulls are here for me in DC, I know, but nothing can beat knowing your parents, siblings and closest friends being a stones throw away.
I was thinking the other day of how I now have a job in DC. Not an internship, not a retail job, not something that I could pack up and leave at a moments notice, but a responsibility; I have a real job. That got me thinking of all of the things that will change permanently. My address for starters. 7066 cannot be my fall back address for much longer. Dreading the day I won’t fill in that address in for my permanent address is an understatement. The government may not see it as my permanent address, but my heart always will.
My doctors will change. I have decided this is single-handedly the most terrifying thing about moving away from home. In college I could always come home on the weekends, or skip class for a day if I needed to in order to go my doctor. I have been going to the same doctors for 14 years. How am I supposed to choose something that? What if I don’t like them? Or their cold hands freak me out? I will get a, “whats your name?” instead of a “how’s your mother doing?” and “did Jared win his last soccer game?”
I will eventually, when Virginia catches me, have to change my license and license plate. That, I feel, is the last concrete thing that connects me to North Carolina. It’s that fine line of what feels like home, and what defines home.
My friends are moving on with life in North Carolina, developing new routines that I am not a part of, meeting new people, and most of all changing. When I go home there will be new bars they want to try on Saturday night because when they went there with X it was so rad, and not the bar we always chose.
Instead of thinking “I was never there,” I need to think that my home, my family and my friends, are holding me and my memory in their hearts just as tightly and just as severely as I am holding them. It’s not that I was never there, it is that they are feeling the same longing as I am, but in a completely different way.
Maybe painting over my walls was my parents way of dealing with me going to college. Maybe person X and bar Y is my friends way of keeping “our place” sacred in their hearts. People are changing, and moving on, but they aren’t forgetting. They are holding nostalgia and the memories we shared in the same way, just a different circumstance. Sometimes I feel like they have it harder than I do. I might be fighting for myself up here in DC, but I am creating new routines and discovering new places. But the people I left behind are following the same routines, and being forced to fill a hole where I used to be.
That hole is something that for the pain in our hearts sake we are desperate to fill, but also desperate to leave wide open in fear of finding something else to fill it with that we just might like better.