Just a year ago, I was lounging around in my dorm room, napping on various patches of grass on various parts of campus, worrying only about whether I should go to 4:30 dinner or do a double meal before I went to go drink. I remember feeling an intense feeling of calm, keyword: intense, with an undertone of ominous anxiety, an urgency I couldn’t shake or run from.
I hadn’t thought about how much time had passed until somebody brought up how much time had passed since those days. I still catch myself saying “I just graduated,” when in fact I graduated a full year ago. I didn’t perceive time moving gradually – I was ambushed. The summer after graduation didn’t feel like a typical summer vacation, even though I traveled and it seemed like summer. It was the blurriest of blurs and things were on pause, but it happened.
Time moved passively compared to previous years. I was simply living. So much has happened in the past year, from hurtful fall-outs to unexpected and wonderful fall-ins, from solitary self-reflection and discovery to a relapse into the washed-up self I thought was long gone. I visited old habits, and some things and people came eerily full circle, but nothing was permanent and life continued without hesitation. I’ve been in no rush to grow up or get anywhere, which is perhaps why time feels like it’s getting away from me.
This is the first time I don’t have an endpoint or an out. Because you don’t have an out in real-life. Every decision matters. We can’t just sleep-in and miss work one day because we’re tired, the way we did with classes. We have to pay our power bills (true story: I didn’t and they came and shut everything off. Bye Felicia!). If you quit your job, you can’t just go back and say that you were going through personal things, the way you took a break from your team. Decisions in real-life have real-life consequences.
Things were simpler before last May, which is why I still have pangs of nostalgia here and there. I’ll scroll through old photos, a masochistic pastime of mine, and remember a particularly fun formal or a boy that I used to like. But then I realize, I don’t actually want to be back there. Sure, it would be nice to see some people again but I feel like I’m living such a different life at this point that going back would be like falling into the same dream (or at the worst of times, nightmare) all over again. College was wonderful for what it was, but I’ve moved on.
It still doesn’t change the fact that it’s been a full year. Have I changed that much? It definitely doesn’t feel like it. If I tried to a keg stand now, I would probably last a millisecond and then call it quits. I still enjoy shots. I kind of like having my own bathroom and not sharing one, although I also do sort of miss shouting across showers and stalls. I do sort of miss brushing my teeth with another hungover face for company. But it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for me to brown-out (I hate that word) and end up sitting on the ground because the ground is more comfortable and cool than standing up. And it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to expect friends to stick around simply because they’re in the same place. My life now is more solitary but more genuine.
I had to pick up a prescription the other day, and I was flustered because it was my first time picking up a prescription by myself, for myself. Clearly I looked confused and unsure of what to do because the lady behind the counter asked me, “Is this your first time picking up medicine?” I nodded and replied sheepishly, “Yes – for myself, yes.” She then responded, “Well, you better give yourself a pat on the back for that. You’re doing okay. You’re going to be okay.” Did I start crying at the counter? Perhaps. Am I little bit dramatic? Perhaps. Are we going to be okay? Perhaps. We’re making a lot of decisions and choices everyday that have consequences, and they might seem wrong but they’ll get you to where you need to be.