In a few days, God willing and the creek don’t rise, I will arrive at a small town on the Eastern border of Ohio. I will take my bags to my new room, meet some new friends, and a few old ones, bid my family farewell and begin a new chapter of my life.
Across the country and the world, millions of other students are preparing to do the same in some shape or form, each daring to go a step deeper into the icy pool of independence.
I’m heading off to college, and God knows where after that.
The question is whether I’m ready. Officially speaking, just about.
My paperwork is all in order, my packing list is nearly crossed off, and my house has been desperately searched for every essential volume of literature I can’t bear to part with. Naturally there are still a few loose ends to tie up as there always are, but for the most part all I need to do is bide my time.
However, it’s the psychological aspect that’s more complicated. On one hand, I’m counting down the seconds to leave. Literally, I have a timer on my phone that tells me exactly how long before the big day arrives.
I’ve always been something of a philomath, and in just a few months I’ll get to wake up every day in an institution dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. Throw in a couple of good friends and an electric kettle and Heaven can wait.
On the flip side though, Leavenworth has been my home for as long as I can remember, and there are several things I’m not anxious to say goodbye to.
I’ll miss my job at the tiny retro Dairy Queen downtown. I’ll miss the parks where I used to play even if I’m too old for them now. I might even find that I miss squirrels. I didn’t see any on either of my campus visits, so I presume they’re largely absent from the area. It’s funny how the little things change.
My family is certainly not last on that list, and I intend to contact them far more than they joke that I will.
I imagine that I must be feeling the same kind of internal paradox as Bilbo Baggins from "The Hobbit." There was nothing Bilbo loved more dearly than his home in the Shire.
However, one day a great adventure came beckoning for him, and he had to make a choice whether to follow it. Ultimately, his wild or “Tookish” as Tolkien put it, spirit got the better of him, and he journeyed far and wide, struggling against wargs, goblins, elves and even the dragon Smaug himself.
The important point, though, is that at the end of his life, Bilbo wrote a book chronicling his exploits, and he did not simply title it “There” but “There and Back Again.”
Whatever odysseys I find myself wrapped up in come the next few years, I shall eventually make my way home, if for no other reason than my heart is here.