Sometimes I feel like your twenties are akin to a trip for which you were prepared your entire life — by teachers, your parents, your professors, counselors, etc. Now that you’re finally embarking upon it, someone has pulled a sick joke and put a permanent blindfold around your eyes such that each consecutive step you take becomes more shaky, unsure, and unsettling than the one before. Suddenly you’re many miles from your starting point, and you can’t help but wonder: where am I, how did I get here, and where am I going?
I moved out exactly two months after graduating college. Due to complicated family dynamics (that is a tactful way of describing my relationship with my mother at the time), I wanted out, and I wanted out fast. So, off I dove into the sea of job sites that awaited my fingertips and, lo and behold, my soon-to-be boss called me for an interview. Two interviews later, the job was mine.
I didn’t know much about Worcester before I got here; ok, scratch that, I didn’t know anything about Worcester before I got here. The job was a good opportunity and I was actually excited about it, almost as much as I was excited about the prospect of moving out and being on my own. The adrenaline that came with the idea of both leaving my house and moving to a new city on my own had masked any kind of fear, nervousness, or timidity that an introvert like myself might typically feel when making a decision like this. All of those emotions, though I didn’t know it then, would come later on.
I was in a serious relationship at the time with my then-boyfriend who I had met in college. We were together for over three years and when I graduated, he wanted me to find work locally and to perhaps move in together. This was a reasonable thought, considering he traveled to visit me every single weekend when I was still away at college (over an hour drive, plus the time it took him to commute on Fridays from his job). My reaction to this proposition — pure terror — was enough to confirm that our relationship was dying.
So I did what any rational person would do and moved 2+ hours away.
I had mourned the death of our relationship before I had moved. That summer I cried more tears than I thought capable of the lacrimal glands of even the most hormonal pregnant woman. But the majority of them fell when my ex and his family had to put his dog to sleep. Let me preface this anecdote by saying: I dislike dogs. I’m sorry, but I’ve never liked dogs — they are needy, they smell, drool, and bark. I am a cat person through-and-through and I’m okay with that. Sorry if you’re not. Anyway…
I did somewhat like my ex’s dog Spencer. He was a Shetland Sheltie and extremely sweet. I suppose my taking to him was also generated in part from the pity I also felt for him — he was old, had endured Lyme disease as a puppy and was left with arthritis so bad he had to be carried around, and could barely see. My ex also loved him to death and, well, I had loved my ex, so there’s that.
He was put to sleep in their backyard. My ex, his parents, brother and I all surrounded him in the grass while it happened. I was kind of weepy all day but at one point, I totally lost it. The family who had known and loved the dog since he was a puppy was holding it together, and me, the cold-hearted dog hater, was uncontrollably sobbing without any semblance of containment. I cried, and cried, and cried some more. I cried when he was taken out to the back of the vet’s truck, and I cried myself to sleep that night.
It was only later on that I realized I wasn’t really crying for the dog but for the death of our relationship that would only be finalized once I moved.
And that’s what the move did for us. It finalized what was already over. And a couple months later in November, we had the “official” phone conversation that ended it, and the tears I cried then were somewhat forced and disingenuous. At first I judged myself for my overall lack of feeling towards the situation, but then I remembered that hot summer day and everything made sense again.