I’ve just finished packing for university and for the first time in 6 years, my things are all in boxes. I moved around a lot as a kid, but for the first time ever, I’ll be moving alone. I’m off to the University of Waterloo to major in Honours Environment and Business. (Told ya’ I’d make it in!) I’d be lying to you if I said I was particularly sad about that- I was hardly happy with my childhood home life. But I do feel an odd nostalgia about leaving behind the town and friends and teachers that I’ve come to know and love. I’ve never lived anywhere for as long as I lived in Burlington and now that I’m about to leave I can finally see why it’s considered one of the best cities in Canada to raise a family. Granted, the suburbia-ness of it all made me want to rip my hair out at times, and I kept hoping to see a Stepford wife pop open her chest to re-oil her robotic innards…but I seem to have made it out OK and I will actually miss this place.
So, I sat down the other day and came up with a list of things I need to do before move-in day. And I’m sharing it with ya’ll because I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who is currently feeling slightly bummed about suddenly having to be a grown up when being a kid was kinda-sorta-really-awesome. This isn’t actually my personal list that currently in my purse. I added a few experiences and generalized people’s high school experiences a bit. And it’s also based on the assumption that you didn’t hate every single second of high school. You should of course edit this list as you see fit, but the spirit of things is to tie up loose ends to allow yourself a fresh start.
- Go back to the place you had your first real, proper kiss that made you “get” what those romance movies talk about. Chill there for a bit. Review the event, moment-by-moment, savouring the crazy mix of touch, sight, sound, taste and smell. Remember the butterflies in your stomach and the pounding of your heart and the way your mind kept flipping back and forth between “OMG!” and “Am I doing this right?” and how afterwards you felt “that-much” older, slightly sexier and oh-so ready for more. Savour the memory.
- Go back to your elementary school. Marvel at how, no, the buildings didn’t get smaller, you just got taller. Say hi to your old teachers, and say goodbye to the swing-sets and baseball diamonds. While there, go back to the spot where your first scrapped your knee, then move on to the plot of grass where someone first stood up for you and you then became instant friends. Walk down the hallway where you first saw your grade 3 crush and how cute their smile was the first time you got up the nerve to say hi. Go back to the cafeteria and remember how you used to trade Twinkies for Jo Louis’ with your best friend. Go back to the bathroom where you ran to cry when you found out the horrible news, and then out to the field where you learned to play four square, then go back to the spot where James told Claire to tell Morgan to tell Josh to tell Casey to tell you that Adam thinks you’re really great.
- Go back to your old high school and tell your teachers thank you. Then go to all the lockers you had over the course of the 4 years and leave a good luck note in each of them for whomever gets them next. Go back to the classroom where you had your first high school class, and the one where you had your last. Sit in your desk in each one for a few moments and appreciate how much you learned within those walls and during the time that lapsed between them. Go out to the spot where you parked your car the first time you drove it to school, and then go over to the spot where you accidentally backed into the teacher’s car. Run around the field one more time, then go stand in the gym where the school dances where held, and where you learned how to both slow dance, and grind your hips into those of the opposite sex as your first, fully clothed foray into teen seks.
- (If possible) go back to where you had your first serious make out session and/or dropped your v-card. Relive those moments…if they were pleasant. If not, move on.
- Log onto Facebook and tell your childhood crushes that you had crushes on them. Then let the feelings lay there, and be glad with the knowledge that your heart is now empty and ready for The Next Great Love Interest in your life story.
- Sit in front of the teevee and drink hot chocolate while watching re-runs of Arthur, Dragon Tales, Power Rangers, Sesame Street and all the other shows you used to watch as a kid. Marvel at how Muffy on Arthur now has a cell phone and how Sesame Street is still totally awesome and how it still sucks that Reading Rainbow is over. (But don’t take my word for it!) And finally, thank the Higher Powers that you have YouTube now, so you don’t ever have to go without Mr. Rogers and the puppet people again. Brought to you by the letter A. For Awesome!
- Get on a bus in the morning and spend the day riding around town, appreciating the physical world that has surrounded you all these years. Notice the signpost that told you that home was right around the corner after a long night out. Notice the trail you jogged along every evening. Notice the coffee shop where you had your first date, and appreciate how it’s still privately owned and terribly delicious. Get off and walk into the book store where you’d go with your friends to pass the time till your parents came to pick you up from the mall. Salute the City Hall for making things work. Toss some bread at a pigeon in the park. Kiss the tree that shaded you while you read all those novels over all those summers.
- Go back to where you had your first menial minimum wage job. If possible, toss some change into the tip jar of the brave soul who now does what you did.
- Watch the sunset one more time.
- Wake up early and watch the sun rise one last time.
Let’s not sully the wonder of the new by getting all sad about the old. But it is still important to at least appreciate where you’ve been, even if you don’t necessarily like it. For better or for worse, it’s the past that got you to where you are today, and it’s where you are today that’ll get you to where you want to be tomorrow. And with that, I leave you with Emily Dickinson, and hope that you will take home in your heart wherever you go:
Where thou art, that is home.
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