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Before the flight

I'm waiting for it, that green light, I want it

- Green Light, Lorde

2:00 AM

It all still feels so, so, very numb. In 24 hours, I’ll be leaving the place where I’ve spent the past 14 years, a place I feel like I’ve just gotten to know. I try counting the time on my fingers, tilting my hand in tandem with the minute hand on the clock, checking and re-checking every item, every word, on the packing list. Yet, in spite of all that, the fog in my mind has only grown more sunken and heavy, its weight on my fingertips as I gather small things, toothbrushes, notebooks, highlighters, into a box, and into another box: packed neatly into the corner of my carry-on luggage.

I’m thinking about those inspirational quotes laid over a sun-gilded ocean, the ones that say “Appreciate Every Moment” or “Live In The Present”. And I’m trying hard to follow their advice, taking in every single detail I can, like the tung tree that has grown sprawled against my window, or the ripped poster on my wall, that has been unraveling at the edges since 6th grade. It’s a strange feeling: only when the room is empty do I realize how much the room, this entire place, has changed.

***

The luggage is almost full by now. I’ve always defined myself by the tangible things, my boxes of color markers, my collection of Warriors books, my scrapbook filled with poems that never made it beyond the page, foxing at the edges. Packing feels far more like deciding what not to bring.

5:00 AM

Moonlight is ebbing towards the windowsill, and the floor is cold but familiar. I’m thinking of missing the flight: my door locked with three chairs stacked up against it, while I lay in bed with my earphones on full volume, waiting the rest of the day out. And in theory, I could. The lights are still off. I could make up an excuse about the weather, and how the cold caused me to enter a hibernation cycle for an entire day. It’s a far-fetched idea, but maybe enough to sound unreasonably reasonable, like that superstition about how placing chopsticks the wrong way will keep you from fortune.

But then again, no one can say how deep the waters run before stepping in. My feet are already dangling over the edge of the bed. I won’t get a chance like this much more often, and so I do. One step at a time. 

9:00PM

In The Giver, how does Joana feel towards the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve?

  1. Fearful
  2. Un Poco Loco
  3. Ecstatic
  4. Apprehensive

Every time this word comes up, my mind always goes back to 7th grade English class. Jonas, the main protagonist of the Giver, is preparing for the Ceremony of Twelve, where all twelve-year-olds begin their transition into adulthood, as they accept a formal role in The Community. 

At the time, I couldn’t fathom why anyone would feel “apprehensive” towards the Ceremony. It seemed like a time of so many possibilities, and the path could take you anywhere. But as we drive past the slumbering mountains and flickering street lights, I’m beginning to understand what the word actually meant; I want to welcome this experience with open arms, to dive in head-first and never look back. 

The highway is vacant tonight, and perhaps that’s what makes this whole journey so terrifying: the vastness of it all. So many roads that could lead to anywhere.  I’m afraid of being lost like a drop of rain in the crowd or waking up one day, realizing I’ve chosen wrong. 

Right now, the phrase “anything could happen” just sounds like another way of saying “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. But the more I think about the phrase now, the more the threat fades, the more hopeful it sounds, and so I say it again, out loud this time. Anything could happen. Anything, if I just make it happen.

1:45 AM

Boarding announcement. Last call. It feels like I’ve always been heading for some ultimate goal all my life: magazine publications, writing awards, college acceptances. Yet ironically now, as we fly towards Durham, I have to admit that I have no idea where I’m going. I’ll be settling in a great dorm, meeting people and making great friends, but what then? Where do I go from there? For now, at least, I’ve learned to live with the questions. I’m clueless, and sometimes it takes a clueless person to unknowingly walk ten miles off the beaten path. I’m ready to fall and learn how to walk again; I’m ready to run without knowing, or caring, what way the wind is heading. 

So I try counting my fingers again, focusing on my breath. Ten, nine, eight—And before I knew it, we were already off the ground.

Spencer Chang is a Trinity first-year. His column runs on alternate Thursdays.

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