I’ve been trying to be honest on this page, but I can’t. I can’t even say what’s going on in my head. I’ve just graduated from college…. “Congratulations,” everyone says, as though I’ve reached some mark of adulthood, but instead I am sick and sad, like I felt when my mom went away on business trips when I was a little kid. If she went away, would she really come back? And how would anything feel at all normal while she was gone? It’s the same sick-sadness that hit me after freshman year, and sophomore year, and leaving Denmark junior year. It’s a little less sharp now; so much practice with goodbyes has taken the edge off. But it’s still there. I’m still downing Pepto-Bismol and allergy pills, because stress makes my stomach flip-flop and my allergies worsen. Now I have a little more perspective, and I know in my head that I’m not going to die here in this summer heat, in this empty room, like I thought at the end of sophomore year on move-out day. Of course everything will be ok, it always is. It’s just the in-between time that hurts.
Little things help. Yesterday I climbed the stairs to the El platform, missing Patrick and trying to rationalize that our time apart would go quickly. Then, on the bench on the platform, I saw a beat-up cassette tape. I picked it up and read, “Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits”. I couldn’t do anything for a few minutes but stare at it. When I got home, I popped a few pieces of it back in places and wound up the tape with a pencil. Then I dusted off the tape player and put it in. “Down to the River” began playing, mid-song. I listened to the tape twice as I packed.