It definitely wasn’t short, nor did it go by briskly. In fact, it was extremely slow. I felt my life change in phases, and if I’m being honest, I changed. Or maybe I’m not done changing just yet. Maybe it never stops. Maybe I don’t want it to. I’m still figuring out if it is a good or bad thing. Or maybe it’s one of those things that I’m not allowed to like or dislike, only accept or reject.
But it happened.
And my god, gRL, the freedom!!! I can dress out of uniform now, and can cut class to watch a street performer’s mastery of the wobble. Instead of cafeteria shawerma wraps, I can eat Potbelly’s cookies, or Wendy’s fries, and if I dare harness the energy to combat Austin traffic, I can drive out miles ahead to a place like Lubbock and eat oily streetside veggie burgers and drink peppermint shakes and fall asleep in the backseat of my car. But I’d have to be home by 8 pm, because that’s when my mother would expect me to be home. And no one would even know if I didn’t tell them. That’s the best part.
I’ve also learned that college means a lot of alone time. It means driving in cramped spaces, changing radio stations while almost rear ending someone, and it means discovering Chance the Rapper while eating a fish filet in a McDonalds parking lot after work. It means lonely nights home speeding on the freeway, humming along to Coldplay on the radio wondering about the guy with the afro in my Bollywood India and After class.
College means teaching myself to not back into a pole, caring about adult-y things like parking, time management, and remembering to take medications and vitamins. It means saying “no” to hanging out, not because your mom won’t let you, but because of homework. Or saying yes and regretting it later.
It means studying as hard as possible weeks early, attending review sessions, and still failing. It means not understanding why you did. It means accepting it. It means promising yourself a 4.0, and…….it doesn’t happen. And you only cry a little.
It means coming home at 10 pm to an empty house and a sole plate left on the dining table by Mamma. It means eating cold daal because you’re too lazy to microwave.
It means staring at yourself every day in the mirror and poking at the chubbiness of your thighs and the frizziness of your hair. Wondering if you should get bangs or a pixie cut, and convincing yourself out of it. It means wondering if you’re good enough, and knowing that you always will be. No matter what.
College means everything is up to you: the people you see, the things you do, the way you feel. It means going out of your way once and making the bestest friend you’ve ever had, or wanting to and simply not having the guts to. It means regretting it later.
College means good and bad, scary and comforting. It means understanding that the world isn’t just black and white, and it means accepting it. Most importantly, it means never getting used to anything, because one moment it may mean something, and in the next...