I’m sitting on the floor of my bedroom, surrounded by the books, shoes, and birthday cards that represent my memories over the past two years. Slowly, all of these things are beginning to move into boxes that will be stored at my parent’s house, suitcases that will travel with me to Washington, DC, or bags to be donated. My room is emptying, and the walls are becoming bare.
It’s all slowly slipping away; life as I know it is slipping away, and I’m going with it.
I’m making to do list’s that seem never ending of tasks both big and small that need to be completed Before. Before what? Before the After I don’t even know how to imagine. I’m crossing items off my list, but I don’t know how to quantify the things that really matter. Instead, I focus on the things that I can: haircuts and health insurance, bills and boxes. I focus on this room, on somehow finding order through folding, sorting, and brushing away dust.
I look around at this tiny bedroom full of furniture borrowed from relatives and purchased at thrift stores, and I think how strange it is that this physical space can symbolize so much to me.
In the beginning, this room was freedom, blessed independence that I paid for on my own. I was proud of it, and I was proud of myself for learning how to fight my own battles.
The room quickly got messy, which was comforting at first, but later exhausting as clutter and unending noise dragged me down. I worked to make it neat with freshly laundered sheets, organized papers, and shoes lined up in a row, but I was just seeking perfection I’d never find.
Later, there were nights when this room was too much space, as pictures on the walls reminded me of the distance from those I love. I felt lost in it all; I didn’t know how to bear the weight of it on my own.
Then, there were the days when this room was desperately, never enough room to grow. It seemed to shrink each time I stepped inside. I couldn’t find space to breathe or to give myself a break. Simultaneously, my twin bed felt too big to be alone in and too small to contain my dreams.
If these walls could talk, they wouldn’t have any particularly exciting or scandalous stories to tell, but they could tell my story. It’s a story I think is common for most individuals in their early twenties: feeling like you’re playing a pretend adult, navigating the professional world and the confusing ideas of networking and “business casual attire”, long phone calls with friends who live too far away, hitting the snooze button again and again, inner wrestlings with self-doubt through scribbled journal entries, and going to sleep with a smile on your face because of small victory. This room has been witness to all that and more; it’s seen laughter, tears, doubts, prayers, and many questions.
Oh, the questions. I’m still working my way through those, as I sort through my possessions. Somehow I need to figure out what stays behind, what goes away, and what comes along into the After. I’m slowly disassembling this life, and I sort the pieces as I go, wondering where they’ll fit next and where I’ll fit next.
This room has meant so much, and these four walls have summed up this stage of my life, but they can’t come with me. I’m slipping away; I’m leaving them to start something new far away from all that’s familiar.
I still don’t know exactly what that new life will look like, but that’s okay right now. One of the lessons of this room has been accepting that I need to follow my path even when I can’t imagine what’s next. But, I do hope this next room has space for a bed bigger than a twin. I may not feel like an adult quite yet, but I think I’m ready for that.