I just got back to my childhood home after coming back from the airport.
I boarded an airplane in Fort Myers, took a connecting flight at Washington D.C, and boarded on last plane to to Cleveland. The sun is shining vividly through the oak trees leaning towards the street on either side, and the brightness of the sky accentuates my curiosity as to why I came back. Impulse brought me back, I assume.
I told myself once I left home, I would never come back.
I was all too excited for a monumental shift in my life to happen. I turned 18 a month ago. I remember turning to my mom and saying, "We're going on a road trip. If I have grown well enough to leave the frills of childhood, I have grown well enough to leave the safety and the familiarity here. I want a change. I want to keep growing. Let's drive for 18 hours," I said.
Each hour would symbolize a year of my childhood. Of course, that never actually happened; but, it happened unintentionally all at the same time.
You see, the school I selected to go to months ago was in Fort Myers, which is a 18 hour drive away from home. I was ready to say goodbye. In high school, my favorite stories were of Thoreau, Chris McCandless and Bill Bryson. These are all stories of transcendental adventures and a character trying to find himself through a goal and a journey, testing the limits. I found beauty in these stories, in how the characters came upon revolutionary thoughts of life itself as well as the way they have chosen to live.
Those stories excited me and I yearned to live out my own.
I was prepared to go on an epic road trip --albeit with my family-- and not turn back. I was thrilled with the idea of a completely different environment and a place where I knew no one and no one knew me.
Uncertainty terrified me to my core, yet it shook me with hopeful excitement just as much.
I would leave the cold of Cleveland to live the hot days of the Sunshine State. I would leave my small circle of family and friends to no one at all. I would leave what I have always known to go to a place I was only familiar with through pictures.
Why not simply embrace these wonderful feelings of newness, anticipation, bewilderment and curiosity to make a transcendental-like ultimatum? Don't go back!
Something prompted me to go back that first weekend of September.
I didn't have any logical reason to go back, flying over a four day weekend amidst fears of coronavirus when I uncannily said to myself, "Why not?"
So, there I was, back at home.
Dropping my bags off, I walk down the street. My mother lives on a dead end. There's a section of woods at the end which I walk through. The grass is so worn in. I've walked this path many times.
Light casts shadows on the grass around me. The sun likes to dance with the trees. The opacity of the leaves challenge the light, desperate to shine through as much as it can to make itself known. I nearly skip through the shadows, enjoying the light-hearted conflict happening above my head. Then, I see it.
I take my time, walking around my high school. I want to see past memories happen in front of my eyes, but I see them clearly enough in my mind.
I walk at a consistent pace until I see a window. I look around to make sure no one is watching me. I walk right up to this one familiar window, but I don't look in. There's a small mountain range painted on it. There are six grey mountains with snow caps, light blue around them and three small white clouds on either side of the mountains. A couple inches down from the mountains is a figure in black. A shadow, with his arms on his hips, and a red scarf make him look as if it was flying in the wind. It looks as if he was looking up at the mountain range.
This was my favorite classroom in high school, an English classroom. Here, I grew.
Here, I learned how to look up at the mountain ranges looming in my future. Here, my ambition was sparked. Here, I was on a laptop researching colleges and learned of Florida Gulf Coast University for the first time.
Here is the place my question for the "Where next?" was answered.
I suppose I owed myself a reminder to go back here after I had been in Fort Myers for sometime. I had been in that classroom at times full of anxiety, fear, anticipation and excitement for my future beyond my hometown. Here I am on the other end, staring at the mountain range with all of the answers that I would have longed to know six months ago.
On this side of the window, there is rest. There is peace in knowing where I've been and where I'm going.
There is also fear in this.
But now I know what to do with that fear.