On the 21st September 2014, you waved as you drove away. A scared eighteen year old was still getting over her sobbing fit and trying to pretend that she was okay. Just 24 hours ago she was excited but now she felt like maybe that was a mistake. The outside of her hall looked like Mallory Towers but inside it felt like a hotel room. It wasn’t hers. It was too big for a start. Her room back home is perfectly proportioned so her bed is partially in an alcove, and the rest can be accessed from the foot of the bed. There’s the door to the hallway and a door to her sister’s room so there’s constantly people and animals bustling about and she was so happy to have some privacy but it turns out that just made the homesickness a little bit worse.
It wasn’t like she didn’t have fun. There was the madness, the giddiness of it all, when she found someone on the right wave-length, who would laugh at her runaway imagination, who would have dreams about being kidnapped by Ryan Reynolds which of course makes sense. There was reading books and articles and contributing and being heard and not feeling like a complete idiot. There was learning and the thrill of writing a sentence in an essay that contains just the right words. But it wasn’t all easy. There were days that passed in a haze of anger and tiredness and homesickness. There was the uneasiness of new friendships that shoddily shook apart somewhere along the line, there was making the wrong comment and having the feeling of being that fourteen year old again rise up, there was the old friendships which were left unrepaired. There was the constant feeling like there wasn’t enough time to do all the work and also feeling as if she hadn’t done enough.
In the middle there was adventure and independence on a huge scale. There was road trips and temporary friends and city beaches and snow. That was perhaps not as shiny as she made out either. There was times when all she had energy to do was go to uni and go home again but still she left a part of her heart back in that land of poutine and hockey and mooses so she could return one day and pick it up. She saw a wonder of the world and it was mind-blowing and awe-inspiring and everything people talked about. She returned home braver and yet uncertain, the things so perfect when she left having fallen apart when she was an ocean away. Another move, another round of strangers, another route to uni to work out. The sound of trains outside the window. The new set of posters one the off-cream walls. She’s bloody sick of the specific student-room colour of off-cream on the walls. Her weekends were filled with dancing to show tunes and the weekdays were spent talking, filling the silences because she could never stand the void and last semester everyone had an opinion and she had to be fought to be heard. It was a struggle again but there was nothing else for it. The hands kept turning.
On the 6th June 2017, she completed the last exam of her university degree. It was about the American Civil War. A year cannot be reviewed that has just finished and the grains of sand have not finished falling quite yet. The question is, was it all worth it? She’s doing another year so that seems to be a yes. Although people say grades don’t matter, it does all seem to hinge on the envelope waiting at the finish line. The discovery that perhaps she wasn’t the person she thought she was is terrifying and paralysing. There is no going back and she doesn’t want to go back, but it was easier (or was it?) and it was certain and now there are just questions and the answers seem to be lost in the constellations of other people’s actions and environmental factors.
But the past is the past. A path has been chosen. The road carries on and the wheel keeps turning and we choose to follow and that’s all that really matters. We march on.