My Last First Block

10006059276_90dc87c159.jpg

Block 1 of my senior year is over. The Sound and the Fury. Sanctuary. Absalom, Absalom! Go Down, Moses.The books swollen. September rain. Mountain rain. Southern rain. Eucalyptus sea salt baths. Oh, the baths. Coffee drips. Chamomile tea spills. The books are honey infused.

Block 1 of my senior year is over. Only 7 more to go.

I went to the registrar today. If everything goes as planned, I’m set to graduate in May. I’m not a credit behind. I may actually take my bow with half a unit to spare. Graduate. I’ve never graduated from anything before. Before coming to CC, I’d yet to successfully complete a full year of school. Graduate. I didn’t even graduate high school. I actually am going to do it? I actually did it? I did. I did it. And I should be content, but I’m on a spin. A week of a spin. A month of a fall.

A few days back, my advisor received an email from me after midnight, can we meet I need to meet am I going to graduate thesis thesis thesis what do I do the workshop grad school, but am I even going to graduate when are you free to meet?. I sat in his office the next morning as freshmen shuffled in with their final exams, heads ducked, hair matted from their first all nighters. He congratulated each one on completing their first block. And I sat at his desk, a senior in a state of pointless panic. And he laughed. Heather, Heather, Heather, I’m not worried about you. Heather, you’re fine. You got this. You’re a writer who writes. Thesis? Do what you want. Do what you want. My advisor likes to puff my ego. We have a tradition. I have a yearly freak out about whether or not I’ll actually graduate someday and he laughs at me and sends me on my way.

Then I sat in my Faulkner professor’s office within the same thirty minutes, my final paper due in four hours, my eyes red. I apologized for my poor participation in discussion. My tangled papers. My sadness. For not coming in sooner, for not reaching out. I apologized for being so reserved, not engaging as I normally do. Thank you thank you thank you, I said. Because I did adore the course. And it was necessary. It was a course that took me to the edge, that reminded me to take care of myself. And, plus, I (sometimes) do adore Faulkner and Mississippi was a dream of a dream.

The professor blinked at my stupidly puffy face and shrugged and said yeah, I think it’s a pity I didn’t get to know you better. Maybe another time. Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself.

What does that even mean?

9848448973_d1d188d216.jpg

But, OK, can I be a honest? It’s been a difficult block. The past four weeks an uphill battle. Emotionally. Physically. Academically. I cried a lot, because, my goodness, I’m twenty-two and if I need to cry, I’m adult enough to let myself cry.

I thought it was the move that did it. The bursted ceiling of my beloved early-twentieth-century apartment, my departure from the ivy walls and my west-facing window. I thought it was the rain that fell through the moldy ceiling that led me to this house with cold tile floor that increased the incline on my September. Or maybe the two new jobs, one of which I was originally rejected from, the pressure to prove myself. Or maybe it was the boy I dated from fifteen to nineteen, that boy who now works at my college as a sandwich man, the boy I trusted too many times, well, I thought maybe deep down it was his girlfriend’s swelling belly. But that’s not it. He stopped hurting me in Humboldt County.

So I thought it was the fear of the end, of landing a source of income after I graduate–a way to pay off the student loans I’m still raking in, a way to pay for the decadent life I’ve grown accustomed to live. I thought it was a general senior break down.

But then I talked to my mom.

And my mom sad something like, “You went from writing daily all summer. And then you stopped. Of course you’re sad.”

And that’s it, or mostly it. Because I miss it. I miss it. I miss it. Writing. The book. I miss them. The characters. They’re a memory, best friends that I’ve pushed aside. And this isn’t my first time walking away from a heavy revision, from these characters, but I forgot the ache. The numb chill that settles after so many days. And man does the book hurt to write, often pulling me down to my teenage shadows, crying in bed. But still I wrote. And I felt better. And the book was my reason to wake up in the morning and my reason to stay up at night and then I finished (for now) despite knowing it has so far to go and now here I am. I’m an emotional riot because I haven’t been writing and I miss the people I spent my summer with.

10006319985_f4623f9d5e.jpg

It’s starting to get cold again. I need to get my window fixed. It refuses to close all the way. And I have to wake in six hours to scurry to campus to open Cutler Hall, Office of Admission, and make coffee and sit at a desk and genuinely smile (because man, I may be exhausted, but I love this job) as families arrive, and then I must interview four prospective students and rank those four prospective students. October is next week. I love October. Santa Ana’s if I were still in California. Frigid sunshine here in the mountains. Maybe snow on Halloween.

I am here.

Block 1 of my senior year is over. I think it was a total success.