When I first agreed to write about my summer, I thought it would be easy. But when I tried writing it, the thoughts wouldn’t come, and the blank screen stared me down with so much intensity that I had to close my laptop to prevent a minor anxiety attack.
It’s not that I don’t think I’ve changed, because I know I must have. After a year of protesting budget cuts and fee hikes, I’m afraid I’ve grown more cynical, and barely passing general education science classes didn’t do much for my self-esteem or boredom threshold. At the same time, I also know that I’ve gotten better at expressing my opinion in a room full of strangers, as long as those strangers don’t mind a few pauses and some light stuttering. I have the university to thank for that.
There’s also the whole thing about figuring out what I want to do with my life. I’ve been thinking about that issue for years, but never before have I been pressured to make an actual decision — like choosing a major — that would affect my direction. I finally did that this past year, and the relief and peace from that decision comforts me to no end.
At home, my life is on pause, so for the first part of the summer it was difficult to remember that I’m in the process of shaping my life. I was too busy sitting on my couch in pajamas, eating Cheerios and watching “The View.” Yes, I do have a part-time internship that’s engaging, and I’ve been enjoying spending quality time with old friends, and, to some extent, my family. But everything here and now is temporary — half of my belongings are packed away in the garage, waiting to return to Santa Cruz — so I had a difficult time remembering that permanence even exists. You might think this sounds fun, like a brain vacation, but in reality it’s a little disconcerting, like not having a home.
Maybe it’s that I’ve been home long enough, or maybe forcing myself to write this article has sparked something in me, but I’m finally waking from my mental sleep and starting to grow restless. Walking down the streets of Sacramento, my hometown, I don’t see the place where I grew up, but instead imagine Santa Cruz, where I’ll be soon, or San Francisco or New York, where I hope to be someday. (If you’ve ever been to Sacramento, take a minute to laugh at the idea that I’d compare it to any of those cities.) I suspect my family is probably getting tired of sentences beginning with “In Santa Cruz…” and “When I graduate and move away, I’m going to…”
What’s funny is that about a month after I’m back in Santa Cruz, I’ll probably start missing home. But it won’t be this transitory state I’ll be wanting — it’s a memory of a time when I belonged here that I’ll want to go back to, but that time is long behind me. The truth is that everyone’s moving on to the next stage of their lives in some way, and it wouldn’t be healthy to try to deny that for too long. I don’t think I’ll spend an entire summer in Sacramento again. Reality suits me better.