With SATs only a couple days away, only one question has constantly tainted my mind.
Where do I want to go to college?
These last several months I thought I was certain that NYU was the only school for me. I would apply early decision, and then I’d wait to see whether I’d be accepted to the university of my dreams. There, I’d immerse myself into the greatest city in the world. I’d study journalism or political science on a pre-law track. I’d study in artsy coffee shops with a group of my best friends during early mornings, and I’d go to Times Square during late nights. I couldn’t imagine a better city to spend the next several years of my life.
It’s been my dream since I was a little girl.
But the more I thought about it, was that really what I wanted? Yes… Well, maybe. I thought so.
I thought I was ready to leave all my friends and family on the west coast.
I thought I was ready to leave my horses behind while I blindly chased my dreams in the biggest city in the world. I never wanted anything more in my life. My horse would be waiting for me when I came back. He’d understand. I have dreams I need to follow.
But was I ready to go from the small towns I’ve known my whole life to the crowded, noise deafening streets of NYC? I dream about it every night. I dream about never being bored; never running out of exciting ways to spend my nights, even in the most minimalistic ways.
Was I ready to move from a small, rural school with only 120 students, to a large university with over 20,000 students? Yes. I want to walk onto my campus and see a new face I’ve never seen before. I want to meet a new person with a completely different life than mine, and I want to learn from them. I want to be in a place so large I can meet a new person everyday, where I can learn a new thing about a new topic from a new person everyday. I want to be another face in the crowd, but I also want the outlet where I can become a memorable face in that same crowd I merely pass through.
But was I ready to give up everything I’ve known my whole life? The only thing I’ve known my whole life? I don’t know.
I thought I knew. I always liked being the one in my friend group who could proudly say I had my whole future planned out, but now I don’t know. I can’t tell if I’m willing to settle for FaceTiming my friends instead of seeing them face to face. How could I possibly give up horseback riding for months at a time? The one passion that has made me excited for the end of the day. The passion I have put hours of tears, sweat, and money into in return for infinite feelings of happiness and an invaluable bond with another animal.
I thought I had the answers to all the questions I’m asking myself right now, but I realized I don’t, and there’s still so many questions that I haven’t even started comprehending yet.
What I do know is that I’m ready for college. As much as I love OVS for shaping me into the person I am today, I’m ready for a new chapter in my life. I may only be a junior, but I’m ready to go out on my own and find out my purpose in this world. Maybe I’ll find out NYU won’t be the school for me, or maybe I’ll find out that there’s no better match, but I’ll find that out sooner or later.
The audience hushes as the red, velvet curtains slowly open. There is only a single, shining light poised on a girl. Her tight ringlets framing her face fall out of her rigid ballerina bun. Her soft, lilac dress glistens in the beam. Her big, green eyes glitter.
With a fast, sharp note from a hidden violin, the girl raises, kicking her leg straight in the air, while rotating her pointed foot, still on the ground. Her pointe shoes move in a flurry, fluttering left and right across the stage.
A minute later, her feet finally meet in a plié, as she bows and scurries off the stage. I am the first to stand up and cheer for the girl, my daughter. I meet her smiling face in the hallway, after the performance, bringing her into a warm embrace and handing her an outrageous bouquet of white roses. My eyes well up at the sight of her. I snap a picture to remember this moment.
My pride and joy. My little girl. My partner in crime. My little ball of sunshine.
I cannot see into the future, see what job I’ll have, see where I’ll call home. My crystal ball is currently out of order. However, I’ve never seen my life without a child, without a family. I can’t see all the holidays, filled with scrumptious meals and plenty of presents, without a husband and daughter; the winter days with warm sugar cookies fresh out of the oven; crudely-drawn crayon masterpieces covering the fridge and the Polaroids of every little moment lining the hallways.
I dream of my son asking someone to go to prom, my daughter’s soccer team going to play-offs. I can see my son going on tippy-toes to shove a bundle of Christmas cards into the mail, snow falling on his button nose, turning his skin pink. I want to help my daughter learn to walk in heels, laughing as she trips over her own feet.
I see this future as I write letters to my future children, as I jot down names in my phone. I see it in the pride in my uncle’s eyes as he saw his daughter graduate college. I see my future in the plethora of Facebook posts from my aunt.
So, I don’t know what my future holds, nor do I want to. Maybe I’ll score a job as an astronaut or an author, but I do know that what I want, more than anything, is a family of my own that I can celebrate the news with.
I collect memories in my head like a child picks up change off the pavement.
A visual: Boy walks home on the sidewalk, making sure to hop over every crack in the pavement. He spots a penny, examines it between two pinched fingers and deems the coin a lucky charm, then stuffs it into a pocket for safekeeping.
Change, what a funny thing it is.
I often find myself reminiscing on the past. In some ways I guess that could be a good thing, looking back on old memories. Mostly though it just makes me sad.
Photos, journals, memories, they all hit you with this bittersweet nostalgia. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time, just to relive a particular day.
Over the past few years I’ve made connections with different people, some of whom I’ve come to genuinely care about and love. Sometimes I look at some of them and wonder if in ten years I’ll still remember their face, name, or the reason why I was friends with them. It sucks, but the fact is that for a lot of them I probably won’t.
Maybe I’m afraid of change. The more I think about the past the more it makes me dread the future. I wish it wouldn’t go by so fast. I don’t want more of my friends to graduate. I don’t want to get older. But they will; I will.
I can’t control time, no one can. So I guess all I can do is take it in while I can. The good, the bad, and everything in between.
A memory: Last night I was eating dinner with four friends. I hold an imaginary camera out in front of my face and pose, making fun of the boy sitting at the end of the table. “Hey,” he says, “you have to squint your eyes more if you want it to be accurate.” A hand smacks down on top of the table, legs kick out in front of chairs, a forefinger pushed against pursed lips reprimands us for the eruption of shrieks and giggles. We laugh so hard that our stomachs ache and tears spill out of our eyes.
I hope that I’ll remember that moment, even though it’s sort of insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But, hey, it’s the little things that count, right?
In that moment I realized that I have some wonderful, genuine people in my life, and I’m so lucky to be able to call them my best friends.
A piece of advice (for myself and whoever might be reading this): Keep picking up all the pennies you find, even if they don’t seem lucky. Everyone can use a little spare change.
Last weekend I saw a psychic, because for one, she was having a $15 special, (which has been in effect for about as long as I can remember) and also out of pure curiosity. So, my best friend Leila and I walked into the little yellow house with a psychic sign out front.
When we walked in, there was quite a bit of commotion. A little boy had a chihuahua on a leash, the chihuahua was jumping up our legs, and the psychic brought a shirt to a mysterious man in the bathroom.
The $15 special gave me two questions to ask the psychic, and the answers she gave me were startlingly accurate regarding what was happening in my life. On top of that, Leila and I gave her no background information whatsoever. She did not know our names, or anything about us. The answers she gave Leila were a bit suspicious in her opinion, but every answer the psychic gave us was detailed and full of confidence. I’m still not sure if there are legitimate psychics, but this experience was quite interesting.