It comes in waves. The first time was when it was finally time to leave Portland. I drove down Terwilliger for the last time and I cried. In the immediate time following, I was too busy (or sick) to notice or care that a chapter of my life had been closed and with it, the only world I had ever really known. Since then, the loneliness and uncertainty have come and gone, but the most recent and perhaps most violent wave came this last week – a year after graduation.
It seems strange that already a year has gone by. Mostly because I don’t really feel like I’ve done anything. I don’t feel I have evolved in any way. In fact, I feel the same way I felt a year ago – that same lost, oh-my-god-what-am-I-going-to-do-with-the-rest-of-my-life feeling. It comforts me to know that some of my friends feel similarly, but for every one friend whose path seems as winding as my own, there is another one getting married, or deciding what grad/med school they’re going to, or finding a real job. My feelings of helplessness and confusion are exaggerated by the fact that unlike my fellow wanderers, my path is locked in for the next 15 months. Those months stretch out clearly before me and to be honest, that’s just as scary as being completely clueless.
I guess it’s not as dire as all that. While I am committed to being in Japan for 15 more months, I guess there is still room for unforeseen opportunities to arise. I recently told my mom that lately I’d been feeling like maybe I should have only stayed here a year, because then at least I would have more resources available to me to figure out my next move. But even contained within that very idea lies the truth of it all, and a conclusion I have come to before: I would feel this way anywhere.
It’s true I left home for college, but really it wasn’t so unfamiliar. I went to do what I did best – go to classes, study hard and get good grades. Despite the other experiences I had and the other things I learned, college was still school, and I was still surrounded by others who were in the same boat.
People often ask if I’m lonely or homesick and I often say yes. Sometimes I say yes because I feel a general desire to be back in a place where it takes me less than 10 minutes to read through a menu, or a place where my car has tires bigger than my head. But sometimes I say yes because I miss my family and friends. Whenever I think about my college friends in particular, I get a little sadder when I realize that there’s no going back. Of course we can still be friends and of course we can still see each other, but now we are separated by miles instead of minutes and even if we could all get together again in Portland, it just wouldn’t be the same.
Not to continue with the cliches, but it all just went by so fast.