eighteen to nineteen is hard.
nineteen to twenty is easier.
twenty to twenty-one is so beautiful it makes my cheeks ache from smiling.
eighteen to nineteen
From 1,300,000 to 95,000. From a life of sitting idle in cars and hoping rush hour isn’t as bad as it was the day before to forgetting what the inside of your car smells like. From classrooms that push you and provoke you to lecture halls that shame you into not asking questions. From countless friends to no one.
My world was built out of routines. I got up in the morning, pretended to miss the bus so my dad would drive me in, laughed and learned from 7 to 2, wasted my time (parents’ eyes) and enjoyed every second (my eyes), theatre rehearsal from 4 to 6, went home, sat in traffic, ate, slept, repeat. Friendships were easy because I spent my days with them. Weekends were things of staying at home and binge watching Veronica Mars. My classes were (and still are) the hardest classes I ever took, but I lived life how I wanted to. Seventeen to eighteen was good.
My world was no longer routines. I got up early MWF and late TR, fought through the rain and wind to get to class, on-and-off learning with little laughter from 8 to 12, didn’t know what to do, wasted my time (my eyes), tried and failed friendships, gave up, texted my friends from home.
I figured out who I was in the world, not just my world. Not a Hufflepuff, but a Ravenclaw. The “smart” friend. I got culture shock from too many white people. I was a little pretentious and still a lot of talking.
Nineteen was a quiet day. No shouts. No decorations. No songs.
nineteen to twenty
Theatre came back to me for the first real time since seventeen. I could say I was eager, but even that word doesn’t hold enough power as my stride did. I met new people, let go of others, and decided eighteen to nineteen was a test trial. I was savvier with my time and choices. I learned to do things on weekends. I was so much happier.
Depending on myself rather than others was my mode of life. Didn’t turn to anyone when in time of need and spent many events alone. I was content; everything was simpler. Being everyone’s friend and no one’s best friend flattened my turf to a level playing field.
Twenty was a soft day. Nice, simple.
twenty to twenty-one
Decided mountain climbing was more fun than soccer. Why stay on a level ground when jumping makes my heart race?
Found out cars change lives. I could do anything with anyone. I made choices that I truly felt were mine. Also single bedrooms and baths change lives. When I was at my apartment I could be alone or talk or hang out or leave. Texted friends from home less and embraced my surroundings more. Tested my brain power more. Engaged with intellect in ways that made eighteen to twenty jealous. Felt at home in more than one place with more than one group.
Began to love life more. Love my friends. Love my space. Love my influence. Love those who influenced me. Discovered that there was such a thing as being even happier than before. There was a carved out seat for me in my world and it sat exactly where I wanted it to.
Twenty-one was such a warm day. Forty degrees outside yet so warm I forgot my jacket. My body hurt from happiness.
For the first time, I wanted to stay. Some magnets transferred from Virginia to Pennsylvania. No pull was strong enough so I took my chance and drove. From PA to MD to VA to MD to DE to PA to NJ to NY to CT to RI to MA to NH to ME to NH to VT to NY to PA to MD to VA. Two hundred and eighty-eight hours of testing the strengths of my magnets. Only to find magnet shavings leftover in each of those stops.
My feet are now brown with understanding. My wrists are sore with time. My heart is bigger than the Grinch after Christmas. My circle stretched the length of New England and taught me there is always someone somewhere that wants to see you.
eighteen to nineteen introduced me to leaving.
nineteen to twenty taught me new can become stable.
twenty to twenty-one rolled down the windows.
twenty-one is saying it was never about leaving, but arriving. Arriving to friends. To family. To new places. To old places. To everywhere in between.
twenty-one is saying it cannot wait to meet twenty-two.