Monday, July 27, 2009

The Seven Day Itch

I move in seven days. I move out of my home—of eleven years—and my home state—of twenty-one of my twenty-two living years—in seven days. Let me reiterate. I leave everything I’ve known behind in a single, scary, hectic week. I feel as if Samara from The Ring should be hitting up my cell phone right about now. I spent today packing; we cleared our giant shed, we threw old furniture on the lawn, I calmed my anxiety-stricken dog. Now, I sit on my couch and I have a moment to catch my breath and my thoughts and I realize I’ve never been more terrified.

I suppose it’s a difficult process for anyone having to scrape off the patina of youth; I’m at the very threshold of ‘real’ adulthood now, moving into circumstances beyond the safety net of my family, beyond the insular security of a typical undergraduate education. Given, this whole frightening endeavor is in order to shift me from undergrad to graduate school—and I’ll remain eternally in the bubble of academia, considering my long term goals. Nonetheless, I suppose I didn’t prepare myself for the sorts of daily terrors adults face—rent and security deposits, moving vans, grocery lists, monthly income that is sucked dry before you have a chance to deposit it. Perhaps if my summer hadn’t been such a humdrum affair of restaurant drudgery I’d feel more emotionally stable right now; as it is, I feel like I’ve been robbed of something—my naivete, maybe? The transition period? That devotion to my last-real-summer-ever-so-I’m-going-to-live-it-up? All viable options, but the peripheral unease I’ve kept at bay all summer seems somehow indescribable to me, as I attempt to articulate it here. I’ll try.

Worries: What if the money I’ve hoarded all summer doesn’t last until my stipend begins coming in (a full month after I move to Boston)? What if the red tape I’ve been dealing with at my new school hasn’t been successfully rigged, and I’m somehow barred from beginning my classes, from receiving my financial aid? What if the pressure of these mundane worries overtakes my capacity to cope with my entrance into a rigorous graduate program? What if I simply don’t fit—in the program, in the city, in my new home? I’m not diving in, sight unseen, but I suddenly question my motives, and my decisions—what do I really know about anything I’m getting myself into? I’ve already started to think of myself as the ‘baby’ of this whole thing—so many of the others I’ve spoken to who are entering the program seem secure, stable, settled. Married or with S.O.s, many of them. Almost all have dealt with landlords and rents and mortgages before—why, oh why, didn’t I think to try living off campus last year—to better lubricate (hehe) the transition? What if—the underlying ‘what if’ of this whole rant—I simply can’t manage the balancing act that seems so precarious to me now? Everything is already in flux; this potentiality would throw it all into total chaos.

Of course, somewhere in the back of my mind, I doubt my imagined worst-case-scenarios. I’ve coped with worse, though those were the sorts of struggles that sit on a different register. What I hate is feeling as though I’m obligated to pull out the trump card; that I’ve got to attempt a last-ditch effort in order to keep from going under. Ultimately, I think, I just want to be there. I want to escape the feeling of limbo that has been the defining sensation of this summer. And to some extent, I want to know—for sure—that I can handle the transition, and can handle myself out in the real world, on my own, entirely at my own devices. But I just can’t help wishing I had an extra week or three, a little longer, with a little more guidance along the way. Ah well. I’ve got to charge through this.


  1. I know the feeling. Great White North, here we come!

  2. Beautifully rendered, Jamie. You did an excellent job describing this horrible one-week-to-go feeling (I leave the day after you and get to drive for three days to get there). You'll do amazing up in beantown, though. If nothing else, you, Liz, and I can all share our "holy fuck whatarewedoing" freakouts with each other.

  3. This comes as a late comment, but encapsulates EVERYTHING I felt before leaving and feel now, as PA goes through a gut-wrenching budget crisis leaving me unregistered and in loan-approval limbo. It's such a relief to know other people (particularly those as smart and beautiful as you!) have the same fears and challenges. Here's to smooth sailing!