"It will be here before you know it." My parents used to say that all the time when I was beginning high school whenever they spoke about college. They were right.
The day I've been waiting for since I was a high school freshman is almost here. Next month, I start the next chapter of my life. As the big day approaches and my excitement rises, so does my level of agony. I am beginning to wonder if what I have felt since ninth grade is not only excitement but dread. A new adventure is beginning, but I think I always (somewhere in my mind) knew the timer was ticking away on the things I love about my current life - things that will soon be changing - these things, now because of their immediacy, keep me awake at night. These things now cause crying fits when one of my sisters say something funny or when I realize I won't be there to see them cheer at the high school football games this year. The first time I come home from college it's possible my youngest sister might have just gotten her sitting press handstand in gymnastics or be wearing braces - things I will hear about only in past tense stories. I'm worried I will just be like a relative you see a few times a year who always say, "you sure have grown." This month I leave the only place and people I have ever known.
I've been ready to leave this town since the day I moved here. And aren't Colleges (especially beautiful ones) the physical and living embodiment of what dreams are made of. I couldn't be happier to attend Ole Miss - in my opinion, everyone should attend Ole Miss, but that is for another time. But, I think when I was busy finding my perfect roommate, researching new clubs to join, and telling anyone who would listen where I was going to school in the fall, I forget to stop and let myself actually process what was about to happen.
My days of seeing my family and friends every day and driving the same street to my house are numbered. Goodbye, little town. Hello, a new town where I get to start chasing after my dreams. I've been blessed. As much as I complained about being here I am going to miss it. I'm going to miss hanging out in that random parking lot after Friday night football games. Having waiters at restaurants know exactly what I want as soon as they see me sit down. Soon, I'll have new streets in Oxford to enjoy and new waiters that know I love Chicken Nachos with no lettuce. What I will have no replacement for is my family. No more waking up early Saturday morning to watch College GameDay with my Dad. Having my Mom stand in my doorway, talking away as I get ready to go out. Laughing so hard I can't breathe with my sisters while we look through family pictures or try to cook something in the kitchen. I'm going to miss seeing my best friend, "my person," the girl who I haven't gone more than two days without seeing in the past four years. The 256, Gadrock, "City of Champions" is home to the people who have shaped me into the person I am today. This town is my safety net and now the safety net is being removed by a 3 hour and 45-minute drive.
Sometimes you need to let yourself feel these emotions - really feel them. The confusing double-edged feelings of happiness and sadness, panic and elation, fear and contentment. It's uncomfortable to be crying over the fact that you’re leaving your dog, but it’s healthy! This town and these people have taught me how to be a friend, how to handle a heartbreak, how to show love and that baseball games are even more fun when your team has a losing record. In the movie Dazed and Confused, Randal 'Pink' Floyd tells his friends, "All I'm saying is that if I ever start referring to these as the best years of my life - remind me to kill myself." I feel that one on a personal level, I don't want my high school years to be my best years.
The clock is running. Oxford, MS is more of a reality with each passing financial aid email. But soon, if I'm honest enough to admit it, Ole Miss will soon have replaced my high school and I will begin hearing the clock ticking down on my days in the Velvet Ditch. Sooner than I'd like to admit, sadness over not seeing my house will be replaced by sadness over not seeing The Grove or Vaught Hemingway or Square Books. I better enjoy this, not just because I'll be paying for it for the next fifteen years but because, "It will be here before you know it."