Since last Sunday I have applied for exactly three jobs, all of them on the Oregon coast. With the whooshing sound of my email launching into the great beyond, or more likely an editor’s or human resource employee’s inbox, I feel both anxiety and excitement.
It’s hard to imagine where I’ll actually be in 4 months. Rather, it’s easy to imagine, but the reality is harder to stomach. I think like most college graduates, I’m scared of messing up, making an idiot of myself at my first job, having a first job to begin with. When my lease is up, I’m moving out to the Pacific Northwest with or without a job. I’ve committed to it, so I’m sticking to it. You have to jump in the pool to learn how to swim, right?
I know that moving is going to begin a pretty bitter loneliness. I won’t be physically as far away as I have been from home, but financially I will be planets further than I have ever been. I’ve prepared as much as I think a spoiled college student can. First, I moved 2 hours away for school and made all new friends. Most of these were in my dorm and most were like-minded and like-majored students all in the same stage of life as me.
Next, I took responsibility for paying my bills. This was with my parents’ money, but that’s not far from a standard income besides the fact that I don’t have to worry about doing something to make it disappear. I take that back–had I been outrageously rebellious and squandered away every dollar on clothes, alcohol and regret. None of those have ever been priorities, though. Since the first day at Mizzou I have held fast to my belief that if my parents are paying for college, I need to make sure their money is well-spent. I’m their education investment banker. I can’t let their money just vanish with nothing to show for it.
Third, I adopted a dependent. His name is Brynley and I like to think he loves me for reasons besides receiving food twice a day. I have to take him to the doctor, I make sure he has his heartworm and flea and tick medication once a month. I have to get him a babysitter when I leave for longer than a day. He’s not a full-blown child, but he’s as close as I’ll get for now.
Then I moved to Australia for half of a year. This was probably the biggest step yet. It involved having a big girl talk with my dad about finances. It involved planning. I probably should have made friends before the four month mark, but I didn’t. I reveled in those final two. They’re the reason I tell everyone Australia was great. That and my first backpacking trip. There I was essentially alone. My family and friends were 9,380 miles and 17 hours away. For the most part the only ones I spoke with consistently were my moms.
With five weeks until graduation, almost all I feel is stress. In five weeks my parents will take the pictures to prove they spent their money well. In five weeks I am officially on my own with every bill I’ve ever contributed a cost to. In five weeks friends will move away and spread out across the country. In five weeks I will no longer be a student. Two months after that, my lease will expire and my dog and I will leave too.
How dramatically does my identity change with all of this? Is just that question too dramatic? Watching the movie Big Sur I can only hope I don’t reach the point Jack Kerouac does, falling off a cliff of sanity in some kind of poetic tragedy. Not to say the movie was bad. It was artistic, quick paced, and a little bit hard to follow. I don’t think I’ll mind if in 15 years that’s how someone describes my life–so long as it’s not poetic tragedy.