Today is the day! Just after midnight, we will climb aboard a huge hunk of metal and fly across the ocean, leaving North America behind for the busy streets and glittering lights of Hong Kong.
Neither of us can quite believe it is actually happening. When we finished our final exams those many months (years?) ago, we couldn’t stop talking about how now there was nothing in our future that we weren’t excited about. I kept thinking of the next year in thirds: four months of an amazing summer, four months in Hong Kong, and four months of final term. That pre-Hong Kong summer has essentially wrapped, and it was a complete and total whirlwind of adventure. We’re already exhausted – so it is a good thing we have 15 hours on a plane to recover, eh?
My summer began with a trip south, retreating from persistent Northeastern cold. I defrosted in the sun with family and a few great books. My grandmother taught me how to make her signature pie crust and poppy seed bread and my cousin introduced me to bacon pancakes. I remember finding out that I had earned a B in my macroeconomics class. It was the course that had kicked my ass all year. I didn’t think I would actually fail, but I did keep remembering everything riding on me not failing – Hong Kong, graduating on time, the respect of my peers and parents, etc… – and a horrible network of knots would twist themselves throughout my body.
This B made me cry actual tears of sweet, sweet relief. It was over. I had finished – conquered!
I flew home to Boston the next day, truly unencumbered, truly free, truly ready to run wild.
That night I hopped on a midnight train to Philly for my childhood best friend’s 21st. She had survived an excruciating year of loss and we did our best over the next few days to help her have some fun. I think we succeeded.
I spent my own 21st with my parents (having had enough debauchery already). My train delivered me to them at 11:45 PM on May 14 – just 15 minutes before the clock ticked over to my birthday. They drove me to each of the three bars in our little seaside town to try and wrangle me a drink. Each one turned them away and set me to laughing. I loved that they tried, and I also loved that they didn’t succeed. I wanted to go to bed.
Within a week I was at Lake Champlain, hiking and reading and writing and swimming.
I went up to Montreal for one night and realized just how profoundly it wasn’t my home anymore. I loved visiting, but the place felt wrong. I felt the echo of a familiar hollowness. It reminded me of that guy I was dating, and I hated that.
Here I was, living my life to the fullest, etc… and this irrelevant guy kept popping into my head.
My parents and I then drove to Cutler, Maine, to hike the Bold Coast with my best friend from high school, her family, and her boyfriend. It was so unbelievably beautiful and an amazing week, but one night my dad and her boyfriend were getting so chummy I had to excuse myself.
I was thinking about him again. Stupid.
We drove down along the coast, all the way to Connecticut to move me into work. I would be there for seven weeks, living with Sam and Sarah, my best friend from high school who I normally don’t get to see for more than two days at a time. Looking at those two together, I felt so unbelievably lucky.
As Sam sat on my bed that first night and watched me unpack, I told her quite sincerely that I was looking forward to a boy-free summer. No dating, no drama. Just work and girlfriends and good times.
I then proceeded to fall head-over-heels into something ridiculous, something wonderful, something unlike anything I’d ever felt before. He made me feel at turns ecstatic, safe, and validated, and then furious, neurotic, and trembling. In the end, as we parted ways, I was angry with him. I was also fairly certain that we were going to get married, seven or so years down the line.
Today, weeks later, I am grateful for the time we spent together, crazy as it was.
Our job was incredible. We were working from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM and still managed to make time to make memories, friendships, love.
We didn’t make time for sleep. Or writing.
We staved off the post-work blues with a sailing trip around the New England coast with my parents and a kickass captain named Donna who is a whole lotta woman and everything I aspire to be. We slept a lot. We managed to see a few sights and take a few dips and even read a book. But mostly we slept.
I spent two days at home, panicking and packing when I realized I was leaving for five months in just a couple of days. I then hopped on a plane to Vancouver to meet up with Sam. We had been apart for two days and shouldn’t have had time to miss each other, but somehow we did.
Vancouver has been amazing. I’ve met most of Sam’s high school friends, I’ve gone tubing, hiking, and bar-crawling.
And now, well, now I’m ready for Hong Kong.