No first day of school for me

Tomorrow, school starts on the Chico State campus, and I won’t be hopping on my bike and riding down Ivy Street alongside droves of other college students to get to Tehama Hall 107, or whatever room my first class would happen to be in. I’m still back in the Bay Area, and instead, I’ll be getting in my car and commuting to my full-time job come tomorrow morning. Chico State will come alive as it does every August for the fall semester – this time, without me.

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I won’t rehash my entire college career, but still, three months after marching across the stage in a goofy grad cap, I have trouble believing it’s over. As cliche as it is, college marked a pivotal chapter in my life.

I am proud of myself for just about every single thing I did there, (while noting some questionable decisions) from building the courage to leave the comfort zone that was my hometown to making those mistakes and questionable decisions. I spent much of my freshman year holed up in my dorm room feeling sorry for myself and much of my senior year leading the school newspaper and making the absolute most of the time I had with my friends. That comparison in itself illustrates a world of change for the better. All of it – the good, the bad, the ugly, the downright embarrassing – falls together and creates the time of my life: college.

I grew up there.

And honestly, it is so depressing to know that I won’t be in class tomorrow or heading down to the newspaper office or giving a freshman directions to Ayres Hall or coming home after class to screw around with my roommates. We now see each other maybe a couple times a month, which isn’t terrible, but going from living together for four years straight to occasional visits sucks. Our parents are our roommates now, and my brother is always (semi-)jokingly telling me to “move on,” “get over it,” and “stop living in the past.”

I think part of the reason I’m still unhappy and wistful for college is the fact that while that paramount chapter is over, my next one hasn’t started yet.

All of the signature elements of an ending did happen. We had the final exams, the end-of-the-year celebrations, the final rounds of Bear-e-oke, Buck Night, and Pitcher Night, and of course, graduation day, complete with the ceremony and a fantastic party with our families.

But then I moved home. I packed up my car and moved back to the band posters and bright blue walls that make up the bedroom of Jenna the tenth grader, who no longer exists. Back to where I was four years earlier. I went through all of these changes and lived on my own only to come back without much feeling of a new beginning. I do have a lot more life under my belt now, but moving home and away from the lifestyle I grew to know and love has been jarring. I think I should mention that my parents are awesome and I’m grateful that they actually want me to live here during my time as a dirt-poor, slightly terrified recent college grad. And sure, I do currently have a great full-time internship, but it has an end date, and come December, I’ll be doing something else. This living situation and this job are temporary and transitional.

I truly think that once I lock down a job without the term intern in the title and fully move out on my own in the world, I’ll be able to stop pleading for a miraculous college extension and have peace of mind. I’ll finally open to the next chapter, while keeping the memories of the last in mind.

Until then, I’ll continue to consider showing up at Whitney Hall with twin XL sheets and a shower caddy to let them know they forgot to assign me a dorm room.

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