As one of the only souls still left on campus, I’ve gotten accustomed to sounds of the unnecessarily long goodbyes between roommates-turned-bros, girls who haven’t seen each other in a day and will not see each other again for four weeks, and the students who are obviously eager to get away, bidding all farewell with a heartfelt “Sayonara, SUCKAS!”
As a student who will not be returning to the campus for a full year, my winter holiday adieus are more permanent, and I bid adieu differently than the aforementioned ways. Of course I gave my roommates warm embraces before they left to their respective homes, but now that the apartment is relatively quiet and devoid of all five lasses, my musings have kept me company; more so than usual and at much louder volumes.
The fact that I’ll be away from the actual school for an entire semester comes as a bit of a relief for me for some reasons, but also came as a bit of a slap to the face when I final got the housing termination email a few weeks ago. Since then, I have had a sort of mental countdown clock ticking steadily as I finish up my final tasks here. Here are some examples of some of my thought processes:
This is the second to last time you’ll pick up your check. You only have one more week left with your current roommates until you’re replaced. This is the last assessment for American Lit class. Your gym membership expires one the 14th; this is your last “leg day” for awhile.
And as I sit here downing my peppermint mocha while blogging at Starbucks (apparently I don’t dislike coffee as much as I thought I did), I’m aware that this is the last time I’ll be taking myself out on a solo date out in the LA area.
Two of my close friends are also studying abroad come spring term (one to Israel, the other to Lithuania), and so we all discuss our dreams, fears, etc. regarding that on a fairly consistent basis. One night as we were indulging ourselves with Thai takeout at my place (also for the last time for a good while), the one going to Israel said something that I haven’t been able to get out of my head for the past week: “Hey you guys, what if we all come back completely different people? Like how we’re going to change?”
If the high school freshman version of myself were to see me now, she’d be in for some surprises. Hell, if the version of myself from six months ago were to meet current me, it’d be a somewhat similar ordeal.
But I can’t help but wonder if this is also going to be the last time that I will be in this state of “me-ness” before I start evolving again. Because as much as we like to say or think that we’re never going to change, that’s a lie. We’re changing every day with the choices we make and the challenges that cross our paths.
To a certain extent we can control how we change as people, which is where the decision-making affects our personalities. But it’s impossible to predict those changes now, obviously.
These past few months, I’ve had the chance to experience life in ways that I had never given myself the opportunity to do before, because I was always too busy to care or notice. This is part of why I haven’t been writing as much, along with the academic workload, of course. Because of this time, I’ve changed in ways that have surprised even me – in some ways that I can be proud of, and perhaps in other ways not so much. But I regret nothing.
This won’t be the last time I frequent a local Starbucks, that’s for sure. There’s a Starbucks equivalent in the UK, right? But in all seriousness, I am curious – sometimes worried and sometimes excited – about the ways I’ll grow, morph, maybe regress, and generally change as a person. Will I always need time to myself to balance out the time surrounded by others, or is that something you grow out of? Will I sport a tattoo I decided to get on a whim, or will I never be quite that spontaneous? Will I become outspoken, or charming (that one’s probably a negative), or street smart or adorably quirky (quirky yes, adorably so is also probably a negativo). What circumstances, pray tell, might push me towards the direction of becoming the person I swore I’d never be? On the opposite end of the spectrum, what times will test me in terms of showcasing the best aspects of myself?
I want to change; we all do in certain aspects of our lives. But as it stands at this moment, I don’t want there to be an expiration date for how long I can keep being Caitlin 20.0, even when the world keeps turning. Andy Warhol once said, “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes even when the people in it do.” Times will change, and time changes people. I find this to be both a frightening yet frighteningly beautiful concept.