The lights from the city are glowing off to my left as my car glides through the tos and fros of this six-lane artery. This is usually when I wait in ambivalence for the drive to be over. But tonight I feel prickles of nostalgia come over me in the peace brought by the darkness and the staccato beats of the white dotted lines ticking by.
I’ve lived my entire adult life in this state, never quite feeling at home in my mind, but somehow making one of it. I’ve talked endlessly about my native state with stubborn loyalty and complained about the politics and softness of the culture here. Yet, now that I am faced with leaving, suddenly all the good things I will miss surface.
I will miss the warmth of the sunshine, which never seems daunted by winter rains for long.
I will miss the frothy beaches set against rocky crags.
I will miss year-round biking though oak flanked clay single-track trails.
I will rivers flowing over granite and fields of wine grapes tucked in blankets of mustard flowers.
But most of all, I will miss the pockets of friends I have scattered throughout different cities I have lived here. The ones I explored the mountains with. The ones I worked with. The ones I ran with. The ones I prayed with. The ones I sat in church with. The ones I traveled with. The ones I lived next to. The ones who I stayed up late dreaming about this very move with.
Suddenly my future seems like a blank page without them to help me write my stories. And yet I know there will others who will take up the pen.
But for now, I can’t help but feel a loss at leaving this state.
They all look the same but different. They all act the same but different.
Another wedding has brought us together. There seems to be one about every two years that sparks a reunion. We fall into the same rhythms, but with a twist of maturity. Well a little at least.
We are sitting on a couple leather couches looking through old pictures the morning after the wedding. It is now the passing time becomes apparent. We start at how the skin around our eyes is smooth. We look fresher. We look so energetic and optimistic … and well, often drunk.
“I don’t feel like an adult,” at least three people say at various points over the weekend.
But then again, our nights end earlier and our mornings require more coffee than they used to.
A baby dictates some of our schedule, and I for one, am OK with that.
When you are young, you think adulthood is going to feel so official. Suddenly you will be the one with the answers and the plans. You think you will have finally come into your own. You think the heavy weight of responsibility will sap the silliness and fun out of you. But you will be fine with that as you take on that mantel.
But adulthood creeps in slowly. Suddenly we are making decisions about carpet and finances and gym memberships and baby strollers. We find ourselves checking work email accounts and sneaking in a business call on vacation. We realize that injury in athletics has a higher cost. That drinking has less of a draw. But in the midst of those responsibilities and shifts, none of us feel old.
We still make fun of each other. We still act goofy on the dance floor. We still dream about the future.
Turns out, adulthood is a moving target no one feels ready to hit, but that we kind of already have.