It Can Only Go Down From Here
I’ll Probably Never Blog This Much Again (And Other Thoughts from the Sky)
Listening: Feel It Still / Portugal, The Man.
Reading: Being Mortal / Atul Gawande
Thinking: “Any given moment can change your life. You just have to be there.”
Today is August 14th. I’ve swished this date around in my mouth since May and suddenly fiction became fact. I am acting all surprised. Up until the industrial part of the drive to Logan Airport from Plum Island, I took the path of blissful denial. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what it was. My head is still in the sand.
But as dirty concrete buildings whooshed by (“Kevin, we’re not late,” said my mom on more than one occasion. “All right,” Kevin said, speeding), I felt my chest constrict and resorted to Square Breathing, which is apparently a tactic used by firefighters to restore a sense of calm. If I were a medieval dame, I would have said something like Be still my beating heart!!! But instead, I said “I really don’t feel good” and cried.
At the airport, I might as well have been a firefighter for the smoke which filled my brain. I lost significant mental power and some basic motor skills. Not actually, but when my parents offered to pay to check my second carry-on, suggesting that it’d be difficult to lug it through my connecting flight, you would have thought they’d told me I was actually off to become a Sherpa on the Peruvian Inca Trail. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE BUT NOW I FEEL LIKE IT’S HARD! I was flustered.
Greg, Sheila, Kevin and I made a small scene outside security (Thank gosh and his son jeepers for TSA Pre-Check) with our dramatic farewells. Someone said, “Looks like a big adventure! We know how that goes.” Then, in a display of friendliness unprecedented in Boston, everyone in line adopted me as their child and guided me beneath the Great Arc of Adventure, which in airports is also commonly referred to as a metal detector. My parents waved like crazy maniacs until I was out of sight.
The past few weeks harbored a lot of goodbyes. In July, I said goodbye to New York City, which is akin to burying all future expectations of entertainment. Though I felt some relief leaving behind the little (BIG) mouse with whom I shared my disgustingly expensive Brooklyn sublet, and much excitement about reuniting with my hometown homies, I was mostly sad. The instant I left them I missed the apocalyptic-sounding trash trucks and screaming neighbors outside my bedroom window. I missed the endless learning opportunities, the complete independence, the FOOD, the liveliness.
Most of all I missed the people; Mike and John, Conrad, Maddie and Madi, Gerry and Lena, Rudy and Lynda, Rachel and Amanda, Amy, Donna, Diane and Karen, Evan and Harriet, Aly and Jackie and, of course, Rob and Julie — the two whose work and spirits brought me to the Big Apple in the first place.
After New York, a jet set me down in Seattle, like it does at least once a year. My dad and I went to visit the Brandparents in Bellingham, plus his two best friends’ (Shout out to Teddy-Boy and Mitchy-Boy) families. Back in Bellevue, my cousin Teddy and I took full advantage of our first opportunity to go to the bars together, though it would have been made better if Will was around, since he’s only 20 and we might have been able to exclude him enough to make his life “a spinning whirlpool of pain and misery” (This is a Spongebob joke).
I got to hear Jilli’s engagement story from the bride-to-be herself, to meet Teddy’s girlfriend Megan at the funkiest social bar in Portland, to eat crab cooked by Uncle Grady and Dana, to explore with Aunt Lynda, Grandma Karen and Grandpa Jim. My Uncle Ted thought my meatless eating habits were simply hilarious and frequently assured me that whichever chicken or cow lay on his grill did so only because he or she willingly gave his or her life.
I only had about three weeks back at home, but the time passed slowly. My date of departure loomed ahead and I was nervous. Not for the prospect of moving across the Atlantic — That felt fine, even without an apartment, class schedule, academic calendar, or travel buddy (?!). Usually, what’s most difficult for me about leaving is not the leaving itself, or the arriving elsewhere. It’s resisting the urge to detach from all my best friends and family beforehand in an ill-fated attempt to make the leaving easier.
My very best friend and I talked about this a lot, since we monopolized whatever free time the other had for the entirety of our short time together. It’s far more terrifying to open yourself up and let yourself grow closer to someone when you know your time is limited. Because instead of consistently making my heart grow fonder, distance sometimes makes it forget for whom it pumps. But if you’re reading this, it’s probably you! I’ll still love you in 2018!
Switching gears, now: Did you know a violin and fiddle are the same instrument? I didn’t. Apparently, in the native tongue of musicians, a fiddle is a violin without a case. More informal. The things you learn from your plane-mates!
3 hours and 49 minutes to Amsterdam, then it’s Copenhagen from there.