The word that would best describe this feeling would be haunted.
I’m on a plane, leaving icy Rochester once again for my second home in Boston. I greatly enjoyed my month at home over break. But whenever I was hanging out with friends, there was something just that little bit off. Partly, that’s to be expected; the past weighs on reunions of this sort. A question like “what’s new?” is answered with a list of unfamiliar names and places. You inevitably start talking about people you haven’t seen in too long, circling them like vultures until every possible item of conversation has been consumed. This is done with the vague hope that somewhere, the people you’re talking about are still talking about you. The pressure to keep the past alive pushes you into ruts as you trod over the same old ground. This is all unpleasant if you allow yourself to think about it too much. But my respite in Rochester was haunted by something new this time around. In the background of every conversation was the shadow of graduation.
First off, I have never been good with goodbyes. I remember, as a five or six year-old, having to fight back tears because the first season of Survivor was ending. The idea of forever frightened me, and though I thought about it less at the time, so did the idea of never. So does the idea of never. Never as in never again. The final days of high school took more out of me than A, I was willing to admit at the time, and B, I find reasonable now, having survived so well for two and a half years without so many of my hometown acquaintances. To this day I substitute adios whenever I might have occasion to say goodbye, as though by changing the language I can alter the weight of the word. My college graduation will bring with it countless new opportunities to say adios to people to whom I do not want to say goodbye.
Graduation scares me. My anxiety about what will happen in May isn’t enough to push my parents into spending more of their money on tuition, but it is there nonetheless. Over break, friends and family alike asked me what I plan to do after graduation, and my answers never went beyond vague concepts like “find employment.” I wasn’t being coy; I truly am not prepared to face that post-graduation world. In a perfect world, I end up writing for an outlet I enjoy. Like this one, except with a salary. Scratch that: in a perfect world I win the lottery and don’t have to worry about how I’ll pay for rent as a journalism major in 2013. But this world is rarely a perfect one.
I do not know where I will go in May. I might end up far away from the friends I have made in Boston, and I might end up far away from the friends I have in Upstate New York. I’d like to think that I won’t meet both of these nightmares. But they are certainly nightmares. And at least one of them is creeping up behind me.