This morning, after bringing the very first box of stuff over to our new house, I drove up Airport Road towards Franklin, which will be my new route to work once we move. As I'd been planning, I drove up Franklin, found a great parking spot, and walked to Starbucks to get a tall, skim latte. I fear this will become a habit as I'm going to be passing Starbucks every day on my way to work, something I've never had to deal with before. I like walking on Franklin Street in the morning because it's the busiest place anywhere close to where I live, which isn't really saying much. People are, however, catching the bus, going to class, and getting tall, skim lattes or other favorites. This morning there was a slight whiff of exhaust fumes in the air, always a pleasant (yes, I mean that) reminder that my life does not revolve around the rural landscapes, customs, and accents of North Carolina.
I also noticed students on my walk up Franklin to Starbucks. This isn't unusual, after all, it's a college town, and it's easy to spot them with their backpacks, walking to class or getting breakfast or telling weekend tales, much like I used to do on similar mornings up and down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. Two girls crossed my path at one point, obviously students, chattering on about their weekends and their days ahead, ending the conversation, "Will I see you at lunch?" "Yeah, I'll be at lunch." "See you at lunch!" And suddenly I was filled with an inexplicable joy at their interaction. College! And for the first time ever I saw them as in a totally different stage of life than I was. I probably wouldn't pass anyone on my way to the coffee shop and I certainly wouldn't make lunch plans at some communal dining hall or favorite hang out. Instead I would go to work and obsess about my current state of being. No carefree "see you at lunch!" could ever save me now but strangely enough for the first time ever I felt absolutely no regret, longing, or affinity regarding those college years, long gone. It was only a week ago that I spotted students lounging along the sidewalks in flip flops and tank tops enjoying the newly warm weather and I thought to myself "IF ONLY!" wishing I could regain that state of mind. But this time - nothing of the sort. They made me smile with a remembrance of things past and absolute acceptance of things present. Not that I've ever heeded the "college is the best time of your life" credo. In fact, I've always hated it when people utter those words. But this morning under grey skies on my way to get my favorite coffee drink it became startlingly clear that I have moved on. To what? Wondering what's next in a far more urgent fashion than I ever could have mustered during those glorious college years? Yes. And someday I'll look back on this.