Leaving

That’s it. The next intern is officially trained, and by this time tomorrow I’ll be officially out of here.

The nostalgia is real. I’ll not only miss the job and the people, but the color of the cubicles. The corn muffins for breakfast. The Liberty Mutual letter opener. The Sharknado poster. There are so many little things around here that I’ll miss. I’m never going to reenter this building again after Friday.

Yikes. I mean, I’ve already left several places before. Three schools, for instance. Five jobs. After each “last day” there were things and people I’ve never seen again. Even old friends’ houses, though with less warning. There was a time when I left their house for the last time, but I didn’t know it.

I can’t help getting emotionally attached to places. I’m introverted; I spend more time paying attention to inanimate objects than animate ones. My keyboard! I’ll have to leave my work keyboard tomorrow, the very keyboard I’m typing this post on. My computer, my crappy old Dell computer. My phone, with the blinking voicemail. The maps and lists and tips and tricks on my walls. The guidebook that was my bible for the first month or so.

Soon they’ll even take my email from me. Gosh! I like this job, though. I wish I could stay longer. I’m still learning. I just learned where the second bathroom is, the same day I finished training my replacement.

Leaving is rough. Leaving is hard. But I have to just keep on reminding myself that it’s a good thing.

Sure, I won’t get to be a Boston Globe reporter anymore, and I won’t see my friends anymore, and I won’t be able to be in this building anymore. But I also won’t have to drive an hour and a half twice a day in rush hour. I won’t have to do all those tedious intern duties. I’ll be able to freelance. I’ll be able to go on to the next big adventure.

It’s good to look on the bright side of bittersweet.

Notebooks never forgotten

Does anyone else fall in love with their notebooks? I’ve never thrown one away. I flip through them when I reach the final page and reminisce about the doodles in the margins, the swooping titles shaded and shadowed during boring lectures and five minute breaks. I love the feel of well-worn pages, I love the smell of quick-run ink.

I can’t throw it away! Not after hours spend sliding the side of my hand over the blue lines, not after flipping each page one by one—except the one that stuck and got skipped. I couldn’t possibly send this to the curb after it supported me during late nights studying, during impossible essays.

Dark, denting consonants when I was angry. Soft pencil scratches when the teacher turned on the overhead light. Slanted print when I took notes during a film. Perfect cursive at the beginning of class, slowly morphing into illegible loops and bumps, like my pen had monitored an irregular heartbeat.

All the knowledge I had soaked up and forgotten lay fresh on the page, preserved from light and water by thin shiny covers. Coffee stained corners, nail polish smeared on the edge.

The black ink haloes finished classes with rosy nostalgia in the wistful summer. The thing I snatched off my desk in a rush, threw across the room in frustration, attacked with red pens, bought for fifty cents at Walgreens—this is what I swoon over? This is what makes me sigh and shove in a drawer instead of a recycle bin?

Emotions are strange…but perhaps for a writer, who swears every word is her heart bleeding on the page, it makes sense for a notebook to feel like a part of her that can’t carelessly be forgotten.

Hog Back Mountain: The summer day we (temporarily) ran away

Two Augusts ago, my boyfriend Colin and I had a nervous hum in the pits of our stomachs about college. Would we stay together through the long distance? Would we even stay friends? What would it be like?

We avoided asking these questions best we could. We watched The Lord of the Rings and Wilfred. We savored every moment without talking about our nerves. We drove in circles around our town, like a bug stuck inside a jar, until one day we escaped.

We woke up early (for two jobless teenagers in the summer): eight A.M. We filled up his car with gas and good CDs. We bought Sour Patch Kids, beef jerky, Pringles, and skittles. We took off.

West.

Spending hours in a car together was nothing new, but usually we stuck to backroads. That day, we hit the highway with a mission to get as far west as possible by 3 p.m., for no other reason than us wanting to.

We ran through two CDs twice before trying the radio and realizing that all of the stations were different. The further west we went, the less people crowded the road, the greener the trees became, the easier we could breathe. We had a vague goal to reach New York, though we weren’t going in the exact right direction.

I had to go home for some reason…my mom called me and reminded me that I had a family dinner or something that night. Well, we decided to keep going for awhile before turning around. We were approaching Vermont, if we turned right, so we turned right. We made it to a Vermont visitor center. We took a picture with a cardboard cow, breathed in the overcast sky, and hopped back in his little car to drive home.

It wasn’t New York, but it was still good, we decided. We joked and laughed and sang to the radio, hiding the irony that we had just driven to Vermont a week before Colin moved there.

We found a small hidden road that followed some power lines. It was gorgeous, the unpaved dirt road curving through the trees. I took a picture, bumpy and fuzzed.

You can see this picture on this site, as the cover photo behind the blog’s title. It’s also the featured image for this post, in which you can see the car’s dashboard.

Driving along that small dirt road over the border of Vermont was a pure, untouchable moment laced with romance and nostalgia of the summer we had just finished living…but then it got better.

I didn’t have my glasses on, and when the street sign came up I tried to read it so we could come back one day.

“Does…” I blinked, squinted. “Does that say ‘Ho Bag Mountain?’”

Colin burst out laughing.

“Hog Back Mountain!” he exclaimed.

We had just stifled our laughter when we passed a gorgeous sign surrounded by decorative stones and pretty flowers, proudly declaring “Hog Back Mountain.” We lost it again.

We were about two hours from home when the rain began, and god, it was torrential. It was so bad that we actually had to pull over because he couldn’t see well enough to drive. The windshield wipers were all but useless. As we sat in the breakdown lane, waiting for it to pass, I got a weather alert on my phone of an extreme storm condition. I left the alert in my notifications for weeks after, and would look at it when I missed summer.

“Extreme storm condit…46 days ago.” The little notification was like a keepsake. It disappeared after ninety days.

We eventually got home, but not in time to my dinner. Of course, I had no excuse as to why I was late. We were driving, from Vermont. Why were we in Vermont? Literally no reason.

I began thinking of this story today and wondered if I’m already too old for these little rebellions. Have I changed so much in just two years that I wouldn’t do this again? Has driving into Boston traffic every day ruined my love for an empty highway and open windows?

The truth is, no. I would definitely do this trip again—in fact, Colin and I likely will do something like this very soon, maybe actually making it to New York this time. I think the difference, besides both of us having far less free time, is that back then we were both fighting hard to make memories with each other, out of fear that college would tear us apart.

We drove to Vermont with excitement tinged with fear, we staged our day-long runaway like a trial run. There were times all summer, but especially on that trip when we wanted to run away for good, to not turn back halfway through the day and go back  to the scripted life of approaching college, but instead to keep driving west until we hit the Pacific and start…something.

But we didn’t.

I don’t know if a repeat day long road trip would be better or worse. I think it would still be a lot of fun, but would it miss something without the underlying desire to keep going? Was our fear of losing each other and our desperate attempts to make memories what made that summer so memorable?

Did my desire to run spring purely from teenage hormones or would it still pull me on, make me misty-eyed when we turn back home?

Or, alternately, would a fearless adventure without the nervous twitches, without the stress of making it memorable or the desire to run away, actually be much better?

A few things haven’t changed, naturally. Of course, Colin and I still close, even closer. And we’re still trying to break free of our hometown’s web, trying to avoid being sucked down a drain of parental dependency and resume gaps. We still drive in circles around the backroads, we still watch epic sagas on his television, we still do projects together, we still reference Breaking Bad when cooking dinner and sing loudly to the two CDs we play on repeat in his same car.

And, we still both harbor a nervous excitement for whatever the future may hold. Perhaps though, since our Ho Bag Mountain days, we have a bit more confidence, a bit more stability.

Then again, perhaps not.