I’ll be packing up my stuff and hitting the road leading back home to Monterey County in literally 11 days. It’ll be a bittersweet return to the land of the north that I love.
I remember the last meal I had in Salinas hours before I loaded up and drove south. It was at the local bagel shop with two of my closest friends. That morning we did what we normally do, we drank terrible coffee and ate doughy goodness and talked about whatever came across our minds. It was as if nothing big or important was about to happen a mere hour later. And to be quite honest, that’ s the way I wanted it. I didn’t want a big going away speech from these guys, merely one last hurrah as we’ve always done.
I went home from that breakfast sad because I knew that it’d be the last time in several months that I’d have breakfast with them. As I packed I fought back tears and tried not to think of what I was leaving behind, but about the adventures that were to come, but it’s hard to get excited for a future that is unknown.
Then the time came. The car was fully loaded. Elliott Smith (God bless his soul, where ever he is now) was placed in the guest room, and my family and I drove off.
I remember my sister and I were driving in the same car for the first stretch, and we listened to Mumford & Sons as we crossed the Monterey County line. I always dreamed of flipping the bird at Monterey County when I left, because it was a place that those residing there love to hate. But when the time came, I had too many good memories and friendlies still there that I couldn’t bring myself to do such a gesture. Instead I just quietly commented to my sister that we just changed counties.
It was similar to that scene in Lord of the Rings when Sam tells Frodo that they had reached a point in their journey that was the farthest he’d ever been away from the Shire.
My shire was Monterey, and my Mordor was Irvine (the Lord of the Rings similarities didn’t stop once I reached UCI either. Ask me about it and I’ll tell you why one day over bad coffee and bagels).
We rolled into the OC and found our hotel for the night. Being so close to my new home, but not actually in it was nerve racking, but the night went by fast and the day was upon me.
Early in the morning (it was really about 9, but writing “early in the morning” sounds a lot better) I moved in. I had my room, I had my house, and I had my housemates.
My parents and sister then gave me a tearful goodbye and one of those “we’re so proud of you and know that you’ll make good choices” mini inspirational speeches. And with that they were gone. I was officially on my own. 21 years of my life and here it was for the first time in my life.
My first order of business was to get some groceries. This turned out to be a bigger task than I could’ve anticipated. I had no idea what to buy, so I bought whatever I wanted (Salt tine crackers apparently are not a staple part of my diet).
The first couple of weeks at school were hard. I didn’t have many connections, thus no one close to me. Coming from a solid home and group of friends to essentially the opposite was a bigger shock that I had expected. But nonetheless, every seed endures the darkness before it sprouts into a flower.
I made sure to get involved with the school quickly so that I could make friends, because I knew there would be no better way. Luckily for me people were receptive to this little blond northern Californian.
It also helped that my roommate and I clicked well and became amazing friends within the first 3 weeks. Having him there when I came home each day was a nice treat that truly kept me going. I’m not sure how this year would be without him.
From there the year was full of surprises, adventures, new faces, and a lot of explaining that I came from a community college and that I am already 21.
As I reflect on the year I can’t help but feel good about it. I still miss my friends back home, but now I have a completely different friend base awaiting my return to Irvine every time.
Truthfully, the OC is not where I see myself settling in after college, but for now I really enjoy it. College is what you make it, and I’m hell bent on making it memorable.