Writing the next chapter

I had a recent conversation with a good friend in which he said something remarkably philosophical for a 22-year-old guy: “This chapter is over. I’m ready to turn the page and start writing the next one.”

He was referring to the chapter of our lives that was college. And he was right — as much as I was sad to see college life come to an end, I couldn’t deny that it unrelenting had.

Over the six weeks of summer that I spent in Columbia, many of my friends moved. They went to new cities to start new jobs and internships. And without them, it wasn’t the same. I had favorite places I thought I wanted to go to again before I left, but I soon realized that those memories were better left alone — because the experience wouldn’t be the same without the same crowd.

The great thing about that is that is was motivation for me, and it made my own leaving easier. “They’ve all started writing. I want to join in,” my friend said.

Again, he was right. Leaving the town that had become my home over the past four years meant joining in the next great adventure of all of our lives. Telling friends about my new apartment, town, job, co-workers and (hopefully) friends would be a lot more fun than telling them about living in my house in Columbia by myself and going to the Rec. It was time to take the next step.

Said the journalism side of me. But there is another side — the choir side — and as my departure from Columbia approached, I found myself torn between the two.

Because the choir side doesn’t want to move on. The choir side is entirely still in Columbia.

My music friends are a mixture of ages and majors and, somehow, of the group that I consider my wonderful friends, I am the only one leaving at this point. Others have more school, are starting another degree, or just haven’t figured out where they’re going yet.

And that makes it really hard. In general, I feel that leaving is always easier than being left behind, but in this case I’m leaving behind a group of friends entirely intact. As another friend pointed out, it would be easier for me if everyone were saying goodbyes. Instead, it was just me.

And yes, I’ll go back and see them all. And it will be nice that they’re all in Columbia — because opportunities to see all my journalism friends at once will be incredibly rare in the future — but when I go back I’ll be the visitor, and they’ll all still be there, hanging out together, doing what we all love to do — without me. It breaks my heart to know that I’ll be missing out.

But I just have to remind myself that they’ll have to come visit me, and that gradually, whether it takes months or years, they will all leave and move on as well, and soon — as it now is with the journalism side — we’ll all be visitors to each other.

And, once in a while, we’ll all make visits back to the place that, together, was our home.

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