10 Hours at the University of Virginia

It’s 4pm on a beautiful summer day. I’m sitting in the library using the hotspot on my phone. For 10 hours, I’ve been walking around Charlottesville. I’ve felt like a University of Virginia student the whole day. Up until now. Until I tried to connect to the Wi-Fi in the library.

I don’t have the access code.

It’s move-in day. There are parents, siblings and friends walking amongst the students. Classes start next week and everyone is running around frantically, excitedly, trying to tick things off their to-do list. It’s funny: I’ve only seen two demeanors from the students. The ones who can’t wait to get away from their parents and the ones who are intimidated, sad and afraid. Nothing in between.

This is an incredible place. I can feel the history. I can see it in the buildings. I can sense it in everyone; they’re proud of it. They know what it means to go here. They know what they’ll get out of it. It’s one of the best universities in the country. Why wouldn’t it be like this?

Other people think I’m a student, too. I can see the appraising looks as I walk by. It’s nice. I feel like part of a community. But then I leave before all the fun starts. I leave before all the challenges start.

I knew it would happen. I knew this campus, this town, would captivate me. It’s fondness for my home, perhaps. This is the flagship school of this state, the one where I was born and the first place I moved when I had the chance.

I want to feel like a student here. And I think that says a lot. It might say it all.

But I’m still torn. I’m fortunate to be at a point where I can take my life in different directions. This would be the first serious step. It’s a cut; a zig when I thought I needed to zag. It’s permanent. Recovering from this decision, if it’s wrong, would be hard.

I’m going to see a soccer game later. Maybe things will get easier. Or simpler. Maybe I’ll feel differently with my mind focused elsewhere.

But I hope not.