A friend of fourteen years left for college a week ago. I’ve been trying to craft all that I’ve wanted to say to her into coherent sentences ever since her flight took off, and as tough as it was combing through the mass of emotions in my head, I finally managed to come up with something borderline decipherable.
I’m posting this here because along with her, and I, there are so many others who just started (or are going to start) this new journey. Hopefully you’ll relate.
I honestly cannot believe that you left already. I swear to god, I had marked the day in my calendar ( I mean on my phone, not an actual calendar; who has those these days anyway).
Anyhow! New York!
You’ll know the kind of person you thought you would be when you came here, and how you’ve realised that you’re laughably off the mark. You’ll realise that making friends is actually not as easy as we always thought it would be; because there are just so many walls that we’ve been trained to not let down. You’ll learn that eventually, slowly, you’ll have to let down those walls (I just started working on it, too) and start trusting strangers. You’ll learn to trust your instincts more than Google maps.
You’ll learn that the extent of our education was limited to learning how to read words off a page, and not watch those words become fingers that stretch your mind in a way that’s painful, but refreshing. You’ll breathe. We’ve both (we’ve all) been cooped up inside these boxes we unknowingly created for ourselves, holding our breath in anticipation for something to come along that let’s us exhale. You’ll exhale. You’ll cough, and sputter, and fall ill with the freshman flu till you can’t lie about your cold being a sniffle anymore (they can hear it from two blocks away, they know it’s you).
You’ll let go of all definition; of everything familiar and comfortable. You’ll realise you’re not actually as good at things as you thought you were. And that is when you’ll look. You’ll look beyond your own limited experiences in liminal spaces and see people. You’ll meet people from countries you can’t possibly point out on a map (no, Serbia and Siberia are not the same thing), with accents you can’t decipher. You’ll repeat your own name to people so many times it’ll start sounding strange (“wait, how do you pronounce it?” “I don’t even know anymore”). You’ll think you remember people’s names and have four hour long lunches with them before they shake your hand at the end of the meal, confused as to why you keep calling them Paul.