Friday, May 23, 2008

explaining my leave of absence

So I haven't written anything in more than a month, and I've told myself a lot of reasons why - first it was finals insanity (a distant blur in my memory now - all i recall is a haze of caffeine, sleep deprivation, and a constant desire to throw things at noisy people in the library), then it was graduation and all of the graduation chores and events that came along with it, and then it was a new job (full time for the very first time in my life, I really am a kind of adult now, emphasis on kind 0f). But all of those are basically cop outs. I haven't written anything, because to write would be to process, and to process the events of the last month and the ones coming up in the not too distant future is something I haven't even wanted to attempt. And I'm not sure even if I had attempted it would have helped. I'm still not sure. And before I started writing this, every part of me wanted to curl up in bed instead with my Felicity DVDs. But I needed to at least write something, to start this big, scary (TERRIFYING is more how it feels in my head) process of saying goodbye to college. I'm going to keep things short for right now, take baby steps, but all I can really say with any definitiveness at this point is that we've been lied to. There's this collective opinion in society that there are normal rites of passage in life, and that these things may be a little poignant, a tad sad, but that they're routine and necessary and easy. The way I figure it is that at some point, adults must make a decision to lie to future generations about growing up, or at least decide to gloss things over, tell the sugar coated version. And honestly who can blame them? Because would anyone grow up if they knew how much it hurt, how disorienting and jarring it would be? We'd all just stay emotionally put at nine years old, a bunch of overgrown children sitting around in sand-boxes, blissfully unaware of things like graduations or careers or endings. But we were lied to; we naively filled out the right forms and took the right classes and made little homes in the colleges of our choice. And then poof its over, the lights go down, the props are removed and we're shoved rudely out into the harsh light of reality. Sure, that shove is disguised with a distinguished looking diploma and a fancy ceremony and all of that pomp and circumstance, but at its core, it's a shove, a push off a cliff when we least suspect it. And these last few weeks I've just been trying to deal with that feeling of being pushed over a cliff when I least suspected it, when I was just trying to enjoy the view. It sounds melodramatic, but I feel fairly confident in saying that anyone who has graduated from college or high school or just undergone any big change in life understands what I mean. We're led to believe that graduation is a neat and tidy punctuation mark on this rambling, run-on sentence called college. It's supposed to be a moment, a period, open and close. But that's the lie. We don't cross a stage and magically feel okay or confident or sure of anything at all. We don't take our diplomas and with a single glance, a tearful smile, say goodbye. These parts of life are not what we would like to think they are, clearly defined actions with a beginning and an end. Saying goodbye, moving on, letting go, graduation - all of these things are anything but defined. They're stubborn in their refusal to be tidy or polite. They hold on to us with a ferocity we couldn't have guessed, and they stay with us. But we still try to fit them into these nice little boxes, because it's expected, because graduation is supposed to be a one day event, captured for ever on our mom's cameras. And so for the last few weeks I've been trying to think of graduation in just those terms, and when I couldn't, when it kept hurting, days after I crossed the stage, I just went into avoidance mode. And now, I guess I'm just trying to accept that it's going to be a process, one I may well be going through forever. These pivotal growing up moments are not easy, they're not simple. Just because something is common doesn't make it routine. If we were really honest with ourselves we'd admit that growing up really just a series of heartbreaks, some tiny, some huge. It's important to grow up, it makes us better, but let's just come out and say it - it hurts like hell.

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