A Tribute to My Best Friend

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.”

– Joseph Campbell

 

I think the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn growing up is that life has way too many goodbyes.

I blogged about this considerably back in my senior year of high school as I transitioned to a new chapter in my life. I was expecting that one. It still hurt when it happened, but I recognized it had to happen. The difference now is, I’m realizing that kind of transition isn’t unique to just the end of high school. Life is a steady flow of new faces and saying goodbye to old ones. And this past December, I said goodbye to one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

To clarify, you can relax; he isn’t dead or anything. But we did have to say goodbye, and I don’t expect we’ll see each other again. So, with this school year coming to a close, I’m concluding that chapter of my life the only way I know how: to write a tributary post.

Let’s get cracking.

I met my best friend in January 2015; my sophomore year of college. We were in the same math class together, and I saw this quiet freshman-looking type who wasn’t really interacting with anyone. So I switched on my social mode and made small talk. We got along well and became friendly towards each other. He was pretty reserved, so my attempts to socialize outside of class weren’t very productive at first. He was perfectly fine chatting during math, but not having Chick-Fil-A at the University Center after class.

Things might’ve stayed put, but I got this feeling in my gut that I can’t quite explain—have you ever met a person and you just get this instinct that you two were meant to be a part of each others’ lives? Well, something told me this guy and I were meant to be a part of each others’. And so, I kept asking to hang out. And eventually, we got Chick-Fil-A at the University Center after class.

Within a month, we were hanging out on the regular; ordering pizza and marathoning Breaking Bad, or bitching about our math homework, or forming inside jokes. And by April, we were spending evenings staying up until 3AM swapping stories. We talked about the best and worst of our past relationships with girls. We told each other about what we wanted for our own futures.

I think my favorite part of all of this is we both entered each others’ lives at the right time. Each of us was going through our own personal shit when we met, and we sort of helped each other get back on track with everything. We got along. We were best friends. Simple as that.

I know there are a fair number of guys who think the concept of ‘best friends’ is a bit gay. They don’t think two dudes should be important parts of each others’ lives. And yet, my best friend and I were. When I was in real trouble and needed a place to stay, he was the person I called. When he was upset, despite the fact that I was angrier with him than ever before, I still dropped that long enough to say, “Alright look, I’m really pissed at you. But you need someone to talk to, so for tonight, I’m going to stop being pissed long enough to be there for you.”

We had an especially bad argument in September that left us not speaking to each other for several days. And then, we went to a baseball game and spent the whole time talking, getting back to joking around, and it ended up being one of the best hangouts we had. We got really good at working things out.

Because that’s what it’s all about: being there for each other in spite of disagreements or arguments. That’s what best friends do. That’s what family does. And make no mistake, even if it was only for a year, he and I were family.

Did we argue? Sure. It was mostly little stuff, but it was still enough to be mildly irritating now and then. And at the end of the day, we were always able to clear the air with one simple conversation and get back to playing basketball or video games or whatever.

We didn’t always agree on how to hang out, either. I’m a movie fanatic and would’ve been happy watching a different movie every time we chilled; my best friend was more into watching WWE or training for American Ninja Warrior (no joke!) So we compromised. We spent summer 2015 watching a lot of movies and watching a lot of WWE. We also went to a Ninja Gym once, which was one of my favorite days. We showed each other our home towns and even made a midnight run to IHOP (it was a long day).

I don’t want to just make a laundry list of activities or bore you with tedious details, because no amount of description will be sufficient to encapsulate how important my best friend and I were to each other. No matter how many ups and downs we had with girls in our lives, we were always able to meet up, grab Subway and swap stories. “So, you’ll never guess what shit I had to deal with today.” And we’d lightly make fun of each other for it. And it was the best thing.

We didn’t know it at the time, but this one hangout we had in December 2015 would end up being our last.

(I don’t want to get into why he and I had to end our friendship—the short version is, his living circumstances changed a month later and he decided it would be too taxing on us both to keep up the friendship).

That last hangout was Thursday December 17th, and we saw Star Wars Episode VII on its opening day. He didn’t especially want to, but he knew how much it meant to me, and I think it was a fitting end to the friendship. We made a day of it and ended up ordering pizza like normal, watching our favorite TV show like normal, and going to the movies like normal.

I only have one regret: at the end of that long day, he and I said goodbye. We thought it was just for winter break, but it ended up being for good. And during the drive home, I realized, “Damn it—I forgot to tell him thank-you for everything. And that I love him like a brother.” I meant to say it. Because 2015 was our year, start to finish, and it was one of the best of my life.

I accept that this whole thing won’t ever quite be settled in my mind, but I also recognize that this is part of life and people have to deal with this all the time. It’s far too often that the world shoves two people in each others’ lives only to pull them back apart, and you’re left wondering why. I don’t have an answer, but the thing I do know is that my life is forever better for having had my best friend in it. And I wish I could have been half as good of a friend to him as he was to me. At the end of the day, none of this is anything I can change. But I can appreciate it, and I can take the best of it with me as I move forward.

For one last time dude: Godspeed, and thank you for being part of my life when I needed it the most. You will be missed.

Life Goes On (2014-2015: Year in Review)

“It is never too late to be who you might have been.”

–  George Eliot

 

I hope that what is left of my blogosphere fanbase will be relieved to hear I’m not dead! Though it’s been four long months since my last blog entry—which is by far the most extensive hiatus I’ve taken on this site—I most certainly haven’t given up on my entries here.

That’s how it usually goes, right? Overly ambitious writer kid tries his hand at a blog, cranks out posts for a few months, then burns out and the site fizzles into woeful obscurity. I don’t intend this to be me or the work I’ve built here, but I certainly don’t promise to increase my posting frequency…it has been a busy few months.

Speaking of which! Let’s get to the good stuff.

It’s been two years since I graduated high school. TWO. I’d like to think that the speed with which time passes will become easier to contemplate now that I’m in my twenties, but it hasn’t so far.

For me, this school year has been the most transformative one yet. I didn’t begin it on the most upbeat note…in fact, August of 2014 was perhaps the gloomiest era of my life. This had to do with a lot of things, most of which I’d prefer not to get into here. But I couldn’t wait to get back to college.

Once I did, my friends lifted me up exactly as I thought they would. I launched into a new semester of great memories, challenging-but-exciting new courses, and—most of all—an indescribable feeling of being where I belonged.

The second year of college is an intriguing one. Much like the second year of high school, it’s accompanied by a newfound surge of confidence. The ‘same routine, new year’ type of thing. In my case, that was especially true: I had the same awesome suitemates, in the same dorm room as freshman year, with the same friend group.

But of course, each year has its own challenges. School got, like, hard. (Imagine that!) And my best friend and I started having problems.

You’ve probably read about my best friend from high school. This was the person who was by my side through my entire senior year of high school, that amazing summer after, and even freshman year of college. But of course, going to different schools takes its toll. We started arguing a lot. And we had awesome times to make up for it. And then more arguing. And life went on.

Then something happened in February which I will never forget: I met a super cool dude in my math class. Quiet kid, but I got some feeling (no one can really explain these things) that we’d get along. So I obnoxiously persisted in trying to make conversation until we finally started talking. Then hanging out. Then deciding to be roommates next year.

Having to let my former best friend go was one of the most difficult things I’ve done. And making a new one was one of the most awesome experiences of my life. And now, even as I type, we’re chilling watching TV, trying to wrap our heads around how this school year is at its end.

Don’t get me wrong. My life hasn’t been all full of sweets and roses. Several weeks ago, I was hurt by several friends in a more sharply devastating way than I’d ever experienced in my life. And one of the people involved was said new best friend. For a while, all the people involved hated one another. And we all reconsidered why we’re here. What ‘friendship’ really means. How much someone can apologize for how much they hurt you, and how far forgiveness can reach.

And life goes on.

And now we’re all okay. Certainly we’re more grown up, and stronger, and perhaps a little less wide-eyed than before. (Because yes, it is possible to be naïve even at twenty years old.) Because growing up doesn’t end once you become an adult. We all grow, all the time. We find friends and love them and hurt them and make up and love them again. You make a best friend who becomes your brother, then one day you find yourselves to be strangers, but perhaps even then your story isn’t finished. It’s just on pause for a little bit.

Life goes on. It simply does. No matter how much you’re hurting, or loving, or living. Whether you’re at your worst or on top of the world. People keep going, life moves forward, and in every pain there is a lesson. In every person, there is both good and bad; dark and light; hate and immense love.

That, I think, is what it’s really all about. What growing up means. You become nuanced and discover how everyone else is, too. You get knocked down, dust yourself off and get back up. You lose friends and gain new ones. You hold onto the memories of the previous year and the previous summer and previous people. And life—

Well, you know the rest.

To everyone who has been there for me in this past school year, thank you. And for anyone wondering if life gets better or worse: well, I can’t answer that. But I can tell you that it stays interesting.

Here’s to another interesting, amazing year.

Thoughts from an Introvert

“Telling an introvert to go to a party is like telling a saint to go to Hell.”

–  Criss Jami

Well, I vowed to do at least one post per month this school year, and here we are. Ten minutes until a new month and new year. Nothing like posting at the literal eleventh hour, eh?

I was originally going to make this post a “2014 in Review” type deal, but other than listing many things that happened this year—most of which wouldn’t particularly interest my readers—that wouldn’t be much of a post. Instead, I’d like to take this time to discuss an important topic which I don’t think gets spoken about nearly enough: introversion.

Introversion is officially defined as “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life.” In other words, someone keeps to themselves. But many people assume this definition stops there. Usually, if we see a person who doesn’t like to socialize quite as much as the next guy, we say something like, “they’re such an introvert.”

I’ve been labeled as this for most of my life, and it’s technically correct. However, I never like telling people, “I’m an introvert” (though I referred to this in the title of this post, for the sake of clarity). I prefer to say, “I have introversion.” Why?

Because saying that someone is an introvert makes it sound as though this is nothing more than a description of their personality. I would have to disagree with this. Introversion isn’t just an adjective to define a social preference; it’s an entire way of thinking and perceiving the world. As someone who has introversion, I’d like to talk a bit about what it’s like.

To debunk the common misconception, no, being an introvert does not equate to being antisocial. I have quite a few friends, love them dearly, and get painfully bored if I go too long without seeing them. But the difference is more how I prefer to hang out with them.

I’m a college kid. Many college kids love turning up or being in a large group setting to meet new people. However, I detest large crowds, or any group of people greater than 10-15. I love hanging with my friends, but in quieter settings. Watching a movie together in our dorm. Going out to dinner somewhere. Taking a walk through the neighborhood. I love blasting music and dancing, but only if I’m by myself and can jam in my own private, embarrassing way.

In short, I’m particular about how and when I see my friends. I love social events, if they’re planned out well in advance, in a controlled setting. And after a social event, I generally have to “recharge” for a brief time before I’m comfortable going out again.

When I’m home from college, I’m usually in my room awake until at least two in the morning. Why? Because this is the only chunk of time I have where I can be alone and relax, or do some writing, without anyone bothering me for anything. This is also why I love having the house or dorm room to myself.

This attitude doesn’t equate to me hating people. I love people. Erm, most of them. Usually. Some of the time.

In all seriousness, I do love people, but after too much interaction with others, I start to get this little voice in the back of my head: “I wish everyone would go away. Shoo, pesky humans. Take me to a land where no one else exists to bother me, kind of like Will Smith’s setup in I Am Legend.”

That little voice is a bit of an asshole, huh?

There’s another misconception: all introverts are jerks. Not so. More like, we simply have a lower tolerance for interacting with others.

This goes hand in hand with the discomfort of interacting with strangers. When my home phone rings, I don’t answer unless I know the person. If someone is at the door and no one else is around to get it, I dread having to do so myself. And if I’m alone with someone I don’t know very well, I feel obligated to whistle, or shake my leg, or make small talk, just to keep them from feeling awkward.

Additionally, I work best on my own, which is why I love writing—no one else there telling me how to do it. This extends to my complete and absolute hatred of group projects.

But most of all, what defines introversion for me is other teenagers not really understanding my social drive. There have been countless times that my friends have lightly teased me about having no life, or never going out, or being boring. They’re like, “you’re in college, how can you not live it up?” And as fantastic as my friends are, there are only a handful of them who really understand that “being boring” is exactly what I’d prefer to do.

And now here we are tonight, on New Year’s Eve, and I’m alone in my room blogging. This is a poor example because I actually REALLY wanted to hang out with all of my friends tonight, but unfortunately almost all of my college friends live up near my college two hours away, and the rest are traveling. But, being by myself isn’t the worst thing, either.

For anyone else out there with introversion, I hope that reading this might help reassure you that your social preferences are perfectly acceptable and not at all abnormal. And for everyone else, I hope that reading this might help you better understand that introverts aren’t antisocial assholes…we just have a lower tolerance for humans.

Happy New year, everyone!

Summer 2014 in Review

“One day at a time, this is enough. Don’t look back and grieve over the past for it is gone. Do not be troubled about the future, for it has yet to come. Live in the present and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.”

–  Unknown

 

It’s that time of year again. Whether you’re in middle school or high school or college, it’s almost time for classes to start. Summer has come to a close.

Every year, the night before I return to school, I write a post summarizing the summer. And since I head back to college tomorrow morning, here we are now.

I had a lot of anticipation riding on this summer, because it’s my first one since college. I had no idea if the friends (and ex-girlfriend) I said goodbye to last year would be exactly the same, or completely new people entirely.

This summer was by far full of some of the best memories I’ve ever made, and some of the worst. It was a constant ride of ups and downs, and in the end, I’m still not sure what to think of it.

Since I’m a college kid, classes ended nice and early, mid-May. I came back from college and felt all the immediate comforts of home: this great town, my high school friends who were dying to catch up with me, and my younger brother (AKA my best friend), who I’d managed to stay best friends with all year, despite us living a hundred miles apart.

The warm welcomes lasted for a few weeks, but by June, it hit me: I needed to do something productive this summer besides work on my book. Especially considering that said book received rejections on all pending full requests shortly after I got home.

Low point.

So, I applied for a job hauling books at the local library. And got called in for an interview. High point.

And didn’t get the job. Low point.

So I helped remodel my family’s house. I hung out with my ex-girlfriend without it being weird. My brother and I went on a trip with our Boy Scout troop to Ocean City. All high points.

July was full of its own highs and lows: I learned I had an inguinal hernia which would require surgery in August. Low point. But hey look, at least I didn’t take that job at the library. High point.

I then went on the best week-long adventure of my life.

Anyone familiar with scouts knows what Sea Base is. It’s a nationally recognized scout summer camp in Florida, and the older scouts in our troop headed there at the end of July for a week of sailing, fishing, staying up super late talking about life, and becoming much closer friends. The last night of the trip, we stayed in a hotel and ordered heaps of pizza and watched Ted on the flat screen.

Highest point.

August, like last summer, proved to be infinitely less fun.

I had my hernia surgery at the start of the month, and I got to spend the next two weeks bedridden watching the entire Harry Potter series, followed by every episode of The Office, in a row. I can’t decide what kind of point that was.

Then, in the final weeks of August, I did wonderfully productive things like re-sending my query letter out to a new round of agents, and packing, and getting myself pumped for the upcoming school year. And I did terribly upsetting things like have a falling-out with my brother, which I’m unsure is going to be resolved.

And now, I’m here. Same place as I was a year ago, the night before I left for college. Boy, it is astounding how life can feel like it moves so fast and so slow at the same time, amirite?

Let’s examine the end of last summer vs. the end of this one.

The blue are excerpts from my end of summer post last year.

Honestly, right now, everything’s happening way too fast for me to take any of it in. And I’m at the point where I can’t even imagine what my life will be like three days from now, let alone a week or a month or a year, like I used to. A year ago, around the time I started this blog, I had a pretty good idea that I’d be going to college right now. And I knew it would be busy. But did I know I would date the girl of my dreams, then have to break up with her? Or make a really awesome new best friend? Or get a full request from a literary agent?

No. I didn’t.

That makes me both excited and nervous for what life will be like one year from now, or even one month from now.

Hey, here we are a year later! I’m sitting at the same desk. Same computer. Sure, it has a new keyboard and monitor, but I’m still blogging, and I still have that same lingering nostalgia that keeps my thoughts going.

I have not had another girlfriend yet.  I got three new full requests from agents.

I want to go to college and have fun, but I don’t want to get sucked into anything and come out a different person. I love who I am, and more importantly, I love who my friends are. And if there’s one thing I’m really scared about, it’s that I’ll come home and find that they’re different.

My friends are the same. They’ve grown up, but they’re the same people. So am I.

I still don’t drink, by the way.

Today with my best friend was the more fun kind of goodbye, running around the neighborhood and of course, talking. It’s funny how in a lot of cases, that’s all you need. And when we said bye, no, it wasn’t emotional or anything like that. Mostly a “see ya,” same as the rest. But the difference with this was how fun it was, not to mention that it was the last of my goodbyes before I go. It was the perfect way to end summer and have a final social event before I go off to college.

This touches on my biggest regret of the summer. Last year, I saved my most important goodbye—my younger brother—for last, and it was the best one. I wanted to do the same thing this year, but we’ve both been super busy lately, and that combined with a lot of pressure on a lot of different fronts led to what I keep calling a “falling out” but what I’d like to think is really just a blip on the radar.

Needless to say, this summer overall was a bit less cut-and-dry then last year. Leaving home can be emotional, but the nice thing is, everyone makes a big DEAL of it, so it feels proper. The summer after college? That’s the awkward phase, the stretch where you’re trying to figure out if you should hang out with your new friends or your old ones and do you still have to do chores and why does it feel like half of your life is somewhere else.

I loved this summer, and I made a lot of great memories. I made a few not-great ones as well, but in the end, everything is what it is. Life goes on. Home is still home. Friends are still friends. Your brother is still your brother. And it all works out in the end, somehow.

I’m sad to say goodbye to summer, but I’m also hopeful for what this coming year will bring. Hey, my old friends and I survived one year apart from each other…we can do it again.

So, I suppose one big thing about me did change from last year: back then, I believed no friendship was permanent, that this all was about letting each other go and moving on. But now I know that true friendships really are permanent, that there are some people in your life who you’ll always love, even though you no longer walk the hallways with them anymore.

Let’s hope this year is the best one yet.

Here’s to permanence.

On Being a Freshman: High School vs. College

“Before you ask which way to go, remember where you’ve been.”

–  All Time Low, “Stay Awake”

 

Surprise! Just because I’ve been in college for almost a week doesn’t mean I’ve completely forsaken my blog. Only partially. I can already tell that I’ll be blogging less, but I most definitely will keep at it.

I’m sure there are at least a few readers who want the rundown of how I’m settling in, so I’ll give the quick version: everything here is great. My dorm is exactly the kind of place I want to be living in, and my roommates (I have three of them) are all seriously fantastic. Classes have just started up, and I’m busy, but even the homework doesn’t seem that bad. If I have trouble understanding a concept, my roommates and I study together. We coordinate where and when to go to eat, and let me tell you, the food is amazing. In fact, I have a separate post in mind to outline my college diet, because it’s worth sharing.

But! Right now I want to talk about a very general concept, which I wasn’t really smart enough to discuss before, but I think I am now: being a Freshman.

I say that I wasn’t smart enough to talk about it beforehand because I think you need to be a Freshman at least twice before you can get a good grasp of what it’s like. When you first start high school, everything hits you. The sense of being out of place, adjusting to the norms, and of course meeting new people.

That’s all there in college, trust me. But it’s a lot different.

In high school, for one thing, you’re still probably working on the whole self-confidence thing, and you think that if you aren’t sure where to go or what to do, you’re the stupid one. When in fact chances are, there are probably a lot other people with the same question.

By college, you’ve most likely learned enough to know to ask questions. You realize that a lot of your classmates are on the same page as you, and that if you aren’t sure where to go or what to do, it’s no big deal because a lot of other people are on the same boat. I know for me personally, that’s how it’s been. If I get lost, I don’t get nervous or freaked out. I just treat it like an adventure, find people who are lost too, and we figure it out together.

Second of all, adjusting to norms. Again, different than high school. In high school, I was crazy stressed trying to learn all the rules like where the busses parked, how hall passes worked and why you needed one, what you were allowed to do, and what you weren’t. College isn’t like that at all. I don’t know if that’s because I personally have become more relaxed since I was fourteen, or else because I’m more comfortable in unfamiliar situations.

But honestly, I know that as long as I don’t do anything illegal, then whatever problems that come up can be dealt with. If I go somewhere I’m not supposed to, people will tell me. Maybe even yell at me. But by now, I realize the concept of understandable mistakes. And more importantly, I’m in a place where they’re more forgivable. Let’s face it: in high school, it’s ridiculous how many rules there are. Most of them make sense, but there’s a few eye-rollers in the mix. Things like needing a signed paper to walk ten feet to the bathroom, or not being allowed to pull out your phone for something as small as checking the time.

In college, it’s more my kind of rules. Don’t threaten anyone, don’t do anything illegal, don’t drink, etc. I’m a full believer in taking responsibility for your own life. If you want to skip class to walk around for forty-five minutes, I don’t understand why anyone should stop you. I’m the kind of kid who never shows any work on homework unless it benefits me personally. If I can solve a math problem in my head without writing anything—which, quite often, I can—then I usually just write the answer and box it. That’s what the real world cares about, right? Solving problems?

That’s what college is like. It’s about “here’s what you need to do, get it done however you want.” I love that.

And, the final (but most important) difference: meeting new people, high school vs. college.

A lot of it is the same. There’s that same sense of picking a few people you already know and using them as anchors while you slowly-but-surely branch out. The same feeling of meeting a person, getting a feel for what they’re like, and forming a loose group.

The other night, my college had a dance party on the front lawn of campus. I went with a few high school friends, and we immediately met six new freshmen and formed a loose group. By the end of the night, we were all Facebook friends and talking to each other. That was one night, and that could very well become my central group of friends for the next four years. Only it probably won’t, because there have already been two more groups since then, with the same results.

I guess that’s the real difference. In high school, everyone is pretty nervous, and you slowly make friends. In college, everyone is primed to start up entirely new friendship groups. It’s considered normal to just walk up to someone, shake their hand, and strike up a conversation. Everyone does it. The other night, at said dance party, I became separated from my friend group. I was standing there texting and saw another kid standing by himself, too. So, I immediately walked up to him, held out my hand, and introduced myself. Then I held up my smartphone and asked if it would be okay to add him on Facebook. He said absolutely, and now we’re great friends. Simple.

One example in dozens, and that’s just with me personally. This place has an AIR of forming new relationships. In high school, the environment is a steady dose of nerves mixed with a dash of trying to fit in. You have to struggle not to conform to standards, but at the same time, you don’t want to stand out TOO much. In college, it’s the exact opposite. There are no standards. You just be you. And I think that’s so valuable, being allowed to remember where you came from, because that determines where you go from here. And what kind of people you decide hang out with.

So that’s one piece of advice I would give to high school freshman, though it’s much easier for me than for you: if you want to be the happiest person in the world, then just act like the kind of person you want to make friends with. If you hate drinking, say so! I’ve said so every day since I got here. And guess what? A lot of my friends hate it too. A few don’t. But that’s still okay, because even the people who I know that drink, don’t care that I don’t. In fact, they respect it.

And I’d say that’s a pretty darn important difference between high school and college.

So, bottom line: no matter where you’re starting school, just remember that everyone is as nervous as you, and that even if you think you’re alone, you aren’t. There are people out there with the same interests as you, who think the same and act the same and have the same definition of fun.

Go find them.

Before I Go (On Goodbyes, Part 2)

“There are reasons we met, reasons for the good and the bad times, and more importantly, a reason to end. We have more to learn, more to experience, and more loving left in this lifetime.”

–  Unknown

 

Hi there, people I haven’t blogged to in a week! To be honest, I haven’t given a second’s thought to blogging since this past Sunday. That’s mostly because of packing for college, finishing a manuscript, saying goodbye to my friends as they leave, and basically setting up my life for moving into college. So I haven’t had much time for WordPress.

Speaking of college: I go there tomorrow. As in, move out of my house and into my dorm.

Except I’m posting this in the morning, so it’s really TODAY, even though I wrote this Friday night.

Wrapping up my life here hasn’t really gone like I thought it would. For one thing, I didn’t anticipate how busy I’d be. I mean, I knew I’d be swamped, but not all day, every day for my last week here. Today was the busiest of them all, but I got everything done.

Another thing that really struck me is how calm I’ve been about it all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of emotional ups and downs these past few days. I go from being happy to sad to indifferent in about an hour, and I’ve had arguments with a few people I really care about, including my parents and my best friend.

But the actual goodbyes have been calm. One by one, I’ve seen each of my close friends for the last time, and there haven’t been any tears, drama, or regrets. It’s mostly been, “well, I’ll see you for Thanksgiving; until then, keep in touch and stay the same!”

That’s the gist of it, anyway.

A few exceptions to that. One was my girlfriend, who I already mentioned. That hurt a lot more and took a day or two to get over, but now, we’re all adjusted. I went over to her house after we broke up, the day before she left for college, and we had a fun talk.

The other exception is one I had about four hours ago, when I said goodbye to my best friend. I’ve only really been close friends with him for the past year or so, but it’s been a busy year. We’ve talked a lot about school, growing up and that sort of fun stuff, and the more guy-oriented topics like girls and all that. A few of those talks have been the 2 AM types, which I think are the real kind.

Today was the more fun kind of goodbye, running around the neighborhood and of course, talking. It’s funny how in a lot of cases, that’s all you need. And when we said bye, no, it wasn’t emotional or anything like that. Mostly a “see ya,” same as the rest. But the difference with this was how fun it was, not to mention that it was the last of my goodbyes before I go. It was the perfect way to end summer and have a final social event before I go off to college.

You’d think I’d be all broken up about it, right? After all, I was on a severe emotional low on my last day of high school. But I think the difference is that the end of high school is something definitive. No going back. With friends, you can always text or call them. It might get harder as years go by, but you still can.

So, that makes this my big emotional post the night before I start the rest of my life, right?

I don’t mean to disappoint you, but I’m really not that fussed about all of this. Like I said, I’m surprised how tear-free all of this leaving has been, and still is. Maybe it’ll hit me in a week or two and I’ll break down into a huge emotional wreck on my way to Calc.

But. Probably not.

Honestly, right now, everything’s happening way too fast for me to take any of it in. And I’m at the point where I can’t even imagine what my life will be like three days from now, let alone a week or a month or a year, like I used to. A year ago, around the time I started this blog, I had a pretty good idea that I’d be going to college right now. And I knew it would be busy. But did I know I would date the girl of my dreams, then have to break up with her? Or make a really awesome new best friend? Or get a full request from a literary agent?

No. I didn’t.

That makes me both excited and nervous for what life will be like one year from now, or even one month from now. I want to go to college and have fun, but I don’t want to get sucked into anything and come out a different person. I love who I am, and more importantly, I love who my friends are. And if there’s one thing I’m really scared about, it’s that I’ll come home and find that they’re different.

But I don’t have time to worry about that now. Right now, I have to worry about settling into my dorm, and getting along with my roommates, and finding my way around campus. And I’m not really saying goodbye to the friends I have here. Just knocking them down one priority notch for a few months.

So, to wrap it up before my last night in my own bed (for a while): thank you to everyone who’s gotten me here, but especially to the people I love. My amazing family, all my friends, my still-awesome ex-girlfriend, and my best friend who I really hope will keep that title for a good long time. You all have gotten me to this spectacular point in my life, and I’m ready to make the most of it.

Here I go.

On Goodbyes, Part 1

“Never forget me, because if I thought you would, I’d never leave.”

–  A.A. Milne

 

As usual, there’s a reason for my blogging absence—college prep stuff has hit me like a tidal wave. “College Prep” stuff really falls into three categories: taking care of the final paperwork/payment jazz, packing and buying everything I’ll need to take with me, and saying goodbye to most of the people who pretty much make up my life.

I’ll blog soon about college packing, because that’s an interesting endeavor. But for now, I just wanted to write the first of what I suspect will be two or three posts about saying goodbye. I know I’ve touched on this subject before, but here’s a full, concentrated nostalgia burst.

Let’s begin!

I’m about halfway through my goodbyes right now. The first one came at the very end of July, when I had to make what will probably end up being the hardest one: my girlfriend.

To be technical, she isn’t my girlfriend anymore. She left for a college trip at the end of July. Then she planned to be back for one day and  head up to college for good in mid-August. So, we decided it would be best to break up before she headed off on her trip, so that we could divvy up the break-up and goodbye portions rather than doing them both at once.

I’m surprised at how many people were shocked to hear we were breaking up. A lot of my friends said the same thing…“Why would you plan a day to split up? Why not try to stay together then see where it goes?”

That was my initial attitude, but luckily my former girlfriend was the smart one of the relationship and maintained that we didn’t want to start off college trying to keep it going. Especially when we’d only see each other once every few months. Speaking from a few weeks later, I can tell you it was the right decision.

We spent our entire last day together, doing everything from seeing the new X-Men movie to walking around the local town square to watching Harry Potter to seeing the sunset at a beach boardwalk. And of course, what would complete the day but a midnight trip to Ihop?

After that, we drove back to her house and said goodbye. It kind of sucked, though she was more worried about me being able to drive home safely in my semi-shocked state. I promised to text her when I got home, which for me meant sending her this picture:

Becky's not even hot.

Becky’s not even hot.

Anyway. I’m not here to describe the details of my relationship, nor its especially clean end. Rather, I’m going to re-iterate something I briefly described in a post the night before I turned eighteen. I defer to childhood me:

“Here’s the thing. There’s no such thing as a definitive goodbye anymore. When you say bye to someone who’s leaving, you’re still going to stay connected on Facebook, and Twitter, and maybe they’ll even visit occasionally.

To use an example: when you say goodbye to your friends before going off to college, it isn’t a definitive goodbye. You’ll still see them during the holidays, and you’ll text them, etc. Let’s agree that the reason we say goodbye is because the WAY we see them is about to change. Instead of hanging out every day, you’ll hang out a few times a year. Less and less as time goes by, and eventually, you’ll stop. Then you realize you don’t really miss them anymore. And you wonder what even happened when you weren’t looking.”

I think that’s a good starting point for my ‘goodbye’ posts. There are two main reasons I’m sad to leave people behind. The first is because I’m going to miss spending time with them, and talking to them, and doing fun things with them.

But the second reason is really why it’s so hard. That being, I’m scared to death that my friends are going to forget about me.

Not entirely, of course. But they’ll move on, make new friends, and I’ll just be a set of old memories. See, I’m not worried about it happening the other way around. I’m quite confident that I’ll still hold onto my friends when I leave, and that I won’t entirely move on from them. It’s just that, I’m afraid they’ll move on from me.

Believe it or not, I’m an optimist. And I think that college is no excuse to really say goodbye to your friends. Think about it: we’re in school from end of August to end of November (three months’ wait). Then we go back; home by mid-December (three weeks’ wait). Then we get to see each other until school starts again in February; home for spring break (six weeks’ wait). Then we go back; home by mid-May (eight weeks’ wait). And at that point, we have a whole new summer to see each other again.

So yes, I’m willing to hold on to my friends, accepting the fact that it’ll be a little different but that we’ll still get to see each other. And I just really hope, pray, that when we do, it’ll be like old times.

I really do hope my friends are willing to hold onto this. I understand that I’m going to meet a whole new set of people up at college, and I’m going to love them, too. But I promise myself—publicly, now, so I can’t back out—to never let go of my old friends. To always be available to text or talk to them, just like I am now. And to hang out whenever I’m home.

Just like everything used to be, except with a lot more stories to tell each other.