I got rid of everything I didn’t think I would need for the next year of my life, fit the rest into the back seat of my car with my bicycle strapped to the trunk, a dear friend in the seat beside me, and watched my hometown become a place far away. I drew a diagonal line across the country, two points labeled “Home” and “Home” and followed them from one to the other. I saw pretty hills in Tennessee, stretches of highway across Kentucky, a crazy storm along Lake Erie, and read a sign that said “Welcome to New York, the Empire State” as I flew past with my windows down.
My story isn’t particularly unique. I’m a twenty-something who was terrified to move away from the comforts of home, did so, and quickly learned the world isn’t so terrifying.
In just a few weeks I’ve learned that people will surprise you if you let them, that comfort is in the closest mexican restaurant with decent tacos, that connecting with people comes easily with shared experiences, and that missing home is a heartbreakingly warm feeling.
None of this is new. These are all things they told me in between smiles and hugs and “you’re going to have such an amazing time” and “I’m so excited for you.” But like most things, I had to feel it for myself. I had to have a 2 a.m. solo dance party in my bedroom in the middle of an all-nighter of transcribing interviews to remember I can survive this. I had to share drinks across tables in a loud bar with near-strangers that managed to become friends in just days to believe it was possible.
I’m excited to be writing this only a few weeks into this experience, so that looking back I can remember how impossible it all seemed and how easily it came together in reality, which I can’t help but think is pretty damn stellar.