In just a few days I will get on a plane to fly over the Cascade Mountains and leave Western Washington, where Mt. Rainier seems to float on clouds, and our little bit of ocean is calm and collected in the Puget Sound. Less than 24 hours later, I will be in a taxi heading towards my hostel a block from the Spree, 1.4 km from the Brandenburg Gate, surrounded by significantly more history but fewer mountains.
People keep asking me if I am ready or if I’m nervous. I am not ready, but I don’t expect to be. And I’m not really nervous. After all—I will be on that plane nervous or not. A week ago, I decided that I didn’t want to wait anymore. I was done with anticipation anxiety, done with overthinking how and what to pack, done wondering if I was ready. I have made my lists, considered what shoes to bring and what books to pack, and checked off almost everything, or at least enough to feel ready. Besides, I’m twenty years old. I’ve never traveled by myself. I have never gone more than two months without seeing my parents. Pacific Lutheran University is fewer than 200 miles from the place I was born. So in another sense, I am ready—that is, I recognize that it is time to go farther and discover how to live away from a landscape I love.
It is a strange, nostalgic feeling that has overcome me this past week. It’s similar to the emotions around graduating high school. I know it is time to leave. I have been wanting to leave for some time, but now that the time has come, everything becomes a “last,” the last mountain bike ride with my dad until March, the last movie night with a friend for six months. Not only that, but I now evaluate each activity and friendship. I try to judge whether living without seeing that person or without doing that thing will be particularly strange or painful for the six months I will be on another continent. Or is it normal to go without seeing them for that long?
I am stuck thinking of all the things I will miss, because I don’t have any idea of the things I will gain. I will not be sitting in a box for six months. I will be sitting, walking, running, riding, exploring, laughing, crying, learning, and living in a city with its own landmarks and history. And it will be wonderful and interesting and hard and exciting and scary, and then it will be February. And it will be over.
As I pack, worrying and overthinking everything, I have to remember that I am not just leaving home, I am going to discover a new one. That is the point, so let’s get on with it.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Apart from my first two years at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, I have lived my whole life in Bellingham, Washington, a college town surrounded by green hills and snowy mountains on one side and the Puget Sound on the other. Since I was eleven, I've made a point to ride my unicycle down my town's Memorial Day parade route before it starts, a tradition interrupted briefly in high school when I was in the marching band. My summer job is teaching swim lessons, and I have gotten quite good at talking a scared four-year-olds into jumping off the diving board.</p>