I still remember a passing thought I had when I was five years old and sitting on the small classroom floor: “I can’t imagine not being in Kindergarten.” Even when I turned 12 and was shipped off to middle school, I couldn’t believe it. Even when I graduated high school, I couldn’t believe it. Even now, after 20 years of schooling, I can’t believe it. Sometimes I swear I’m still that five-year-old sitting criss-cross on the cold linoleum floor, surrounded by toys I no longer remember the names of.
I was 18 years old when I moved to Lawrence — an adult, technically, but still somehow a child as I sat in the passenger seat of my father’s Ford Explorer. We didn’t speak. Instead, I stared straight ahead, memorizing every curve of the road that took me farther and farther from the place I called home.
“You can relax, you know,” my father had said eventually. “I know you’re nervous, but you’re going to love it.”
My chest ached as we grew closer and closer to the city skyline. Its silhouette was an overbearing shadow resting just beneath the dawn.
I sometimes wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self that he was right — that there was no reason to worry, no reason for my quick heartbeat and tense shoulders. College would prove to be a turning point in my life, and in a good way. But I didn’t know that back then. I was just 18 years old.
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