As May 11th approached and graduating college loomed on the horizon, I began to experience something a bit odd. I began to feel… nothing unusual.
I mean, there were times when I got a little sad. But these times weren’t super significant. I remember tearing up thrice:
1) When Dr. Watkins was singing a traditional bluegrass song at our literary magazine’s launch party, as he has almost all of the past eight semesters
2) When I left my last creative writing class for the last time
3) When I drove away from my last day of work
Considering many of my friends were in a near-constant state of tears, this surprised me. I am an easy crier, as anyone who knows me can testify. I cry when I am sad, happy, and especially (inconveniently) when I’m sincere or angry. I’d been expecting a lot of ~feelings~ related to graduating. Given that leaving my semester abroad was like falling through multiple glass windows, leaving a place that’s been my home for four years should’ve been at least a little hard.
As I watched the gates disappear in the rear view window, I realized I wasn’t leaving. I was moving.
To a normal and sane individual, I daresay these are the same things. But to a military brat, they aren’t.
Leaving is when you aren’t ready, when it’s a tear that’s creating a probably permanent divide. Leaving is putting an ocean and years between you and a place full of belonging.
Moving isn’t always easy. But it’s logical. It’s goodbyes, boxes, done. It’s routine. At least, that’s how the past several moves have felt, ever since my family moved out of my hometown in 2001.
The things that tugged at my sentimentality are the things I will never have again. The things that should have made me cry–hugging my friends and parting ways–didn’t.
When I lived in Chesapeake, a girl in my youth group once told me, “It must be hard leaving all your friends.” And I said, “Not really. The people who you truly care about and who truly care about you stay with you. The ones who don’t, don’t.”
So I found my instincts kicking in, and I looked at campus with dry eyes, not knowing when I’d return, and knowing very well that it wouldn’t be the same when I go back. I won’t be the same when I go back. But four years was a long time to settle. I’ve got my friends and good memories along for the ride–and that’s not something to cry over.
I won’t say a part of me isn’t tired of byes and boxes and beginnings. But most of me is ready for another adventure.