The End Of The Beginning
And so it begins. The beginning of the end, or rather, the end of the beginning. Fighting through excitement, dread, hope, and sorrow, we start to say our goodbyes, and one by one, I watch all of my friends begin preparing to pack up and leave our hometown for the very last time, on to bigger and better adventures via bigger and better places.
I've joked this whole year about how I've become nocturnal, but to some extent, it’s true. That’s how this year changed me. I come alive at night. I remember 1:00 in the morning, some weekday when we probably should have been asleep, and instead I'm laughing with my friends, guided by nothing but the moonlight and the sound of the distant late night traffic as we run down the shut-up main street, and the tranquillity you might think lies in a small town at 1:00 AM isn't actually very peaceful because as it turns out, 20 minutes later police will come blazing towards you and you’ll have to grab all of your stuff and sprint off into the park, hide yourself under some shrubs and hope they didn't see you.
In those moments you find yourself thinking that there are probably many worse things for the police to be warding off than some harmless teenagers, and as you sit there in silence and watch the lights drive past and listen to your best friend’s heart literally beating out of her chest next to you, that’s when the tranquillity sets in. A different kind of tranquillity, not the kind you’d notice alone but the kind you’d notice when you can absolutely feel within you that you are here and you are young and you are alive. Something closer to euphoria, the same type of thing that occurs when your head is completely out the window on an empty motorway in a car packed with people you love and you’re blasting the perfect song and the yellow lights whip by you one by one illuminating everything in flashes, and you know that it’s going to be alright.
This year has been totally different from all the others. It's somehow more urgent than the last. There is a sense of panic among everyone, claiming how excited we all are to move away, but in reality freaking scared to death of the approaching change. So, naturally, we don’t talk about university much. It's more about making our last memories in this town, all of us experiencing life all in the same place together for the last time. Nobody acknowledges it – there are no deep, sappy conversations about moving on. It's the elephant in the room, a shared, hidden anxiety to fit in everything we can together for these last few weeks.
I wonder if this town will still be the same after we’re gone. When each and every one of us pack up our stuff and move on out, when I move to India in a couple months, I wonder if the streets will be quieter at night. I wonder if there will be others who hide in the bushes in the park like we did that dark November night, and if they’ll feel the same things that we felt. I wonder if they know that it doesn't last forever, because change is imminent, and that in the blink of an eye you’ll see several of your friends drive away in a car filled with suitcases and it will be bitter-sweet. Because there’s something beautifully nostalgic about the place you grew up, but after seeing the same sights for 17 years it’s time to move on, and that’s universal. I understand that. But what’s much harder to let go of are the people you’ve come to know, and that’s what I’ve been grappling with this year. This blog is everything I can’t fully explain about how I’m going to miss this place.
“You know, it doesn’t make sense to leave home to look for home, to give up a life to find a new life, to say goodbye to friends you love just to find new friends.” – American Graffiti (1973)
photo credit : petra collins