I was so ready to leave home. I'd been to week-long summer camps and a few vacations with my friend's family. But I hadn't really been away from home. Like do-my-own-laundry, think-about-my-own-meals away from home. Yet somehow I thought I was ready.
Along with a going-away care package that surely included a mix tape, I gave my boyfriend a Kentucky map with the route from Goshen to Murray highlighted. Our last date before I moved 242 miles away included seeing "G.I. Jane" at Oldham 8 and walking around downtown La Grange. It wasn't odd we went to the movies; we saw lots of movies together. But even though we both lived in Oldham County, we hardly ever hung out there. The grass was greenier to the southwest, in Louisville.
I exchanged the familiarity of the place I'd lived basically my whole life for a dorm room and my first e-mail address at a college I chose because it had a reputable journalism program and was as far away as possible while still maintaining in-state tuition. I left my parents, 15-year-old brother, 13-year-old sister and boyfriend who would do anything in the world for me, including change my car's oil, for a town that I had visited once. My closest friend since fourth grade was going to the University of Kentucky (although she and another friend would end up at Murray ...) and my neighbor-turned-best-friend had one more year of high school. I knew my roommate and one family.
Yet somehow I just went.
I'm sure I was nervous. But I know I was determined. I was ready, even though I had absolutely no idea what to expect.
I ended up making friends, breaking up with my boyfriend over the phone (an unwise means in retrospect), appreciating my family in new ways, working at The Murray State News ... and that was just the first semester. The next semester I convinced two friends that Murray was better than Lexington (I know, crazy, huh?!), went out for ice cream (in February!) with a boy who would become my husband and made more new friends.
Taking risks often means something daring, like jumping out of a plan or moving 16* time zones away to New Zealand. But taking a risk that took me the length of the Western Kentucky parkway was daring for an 18-year-old girl who resisted change. And, turns out, these moments leading up to the risk prepared me for the journey and -- along with other people and places since -- influenced who I am today.
EDITED: New Zealand is actually 19 hours ahead of us here in the Central Time zone. I think the International Date Line caused some confusion. Even so, that's not really the point. Rather the morale of the whole story is the journey through life is made up for people + places that will always matter on some level because they helped me become who I am. Still, I strive for accuracy!