Flying The Nest

January 5, 2011
Sunlight filtered in though the curtains and spread a blanket of light across across my bed. I opened one eye at a time, and tried to focus my eyes on my alarm clock. I hate blurry morning eyes. It was 7:26 a.m. on the last day at home before I left for college, and I was planning to spend it in my house. All I could think about was how I wouldn’t sleep in that bed again for a long time. I wondered if my dorm room would even have a window.

It’s not that I wasn’t happy to go to college. I had worked hard in school since freshman year to earn the grades to get myself into a good college, and I was proud of myself for achieving my goals. But why was I so reluctant to leave home? It seemed like a simple enough question... until you actually tried to answer it. None of my friends’ explanations quenched my thirst for some sort of solution. And to think in my younger years, all I ever wanted to do was be out with my friends, the same people I’d known since kindergarten. It didn’t seem as if any of them were having nearly as hard of a time leaving home as I did. What was wrong with me?

I rolled over in bed and nestled into my comforter, letting out an exasperated sigh. Everyone else seemed to be free of this feeling of homesickness that seemed to only loom over my future. I felt my eyes narrow in concentration; trying to clear my head. It wasn’t working. A bird sat on the branch just outside my window and chirped happily. I focused on a picture frame on my bookshelf with the word ‘sisters’ encrusted along the sides. Karen and I had always been competitive with each other, and that is perhaps what drove me to do so well in high school. I thought of her, still in college, being only three years older than me, and tried to remember how she acted right before she left. Her friends were always with her, or she with them, and we never really had any time to talk. I knew that comparing myself to her wasn’t fair, and that I shouldn’t even go there, but I did anyway. All the time. Had she had the same fears that I did? Was it normal for me to be feeling like this?

Karen and I hadn’t talked in months... She had gone to Thanksgiving dinner with her boyfriend, and we barely stuck around each other long enough during the Christmas holidays to swap presents. The next thing I did was the last thing I would have ever expected myself to do. I looked over at my phone. I bet you I stared at it for a good three minutes. I picked it up and played with it. Was I really about to call Karen and ask her for advice? Yes, yes I was. I had to find her on my emergency contact list because I had never called her before. The first ring... maybe she won’t pick up. The second ring... I hope she doesn’t pick up. The third ring... I should hang up; she’s speedy at this.
“Hello?” said a confused and far-away sounding voice.?“Hi, Karen? Look, I know I don’t usually call you for anything but I sort of have no one left to talk to you. Are you busy?” I squeezed my eyes and prayed that she wouldn’t say no so that I would have to ask.
“No, what’s wrong?”
“Well... how did you feel before you went to college? Did you just want to be out or did you want to be home, but didn’t have time? I think something is wrong with me. I don’t want to leave.” My voice had dropped towards the end. Maybe I was telling her too much.
“Sister to sister: Of course I knew I would miss home. I went out with my friends and talked with Mom and Dad all I could. I was terrified at the thought of being out on my own. Wanting to stay home is a comfort-zone thing. It’s part of growing up though. Look, you’ve slept in the same bed, in the same room, in the same house all of your life. You’ve known the same people since you could walk, and Mom and Dad have always been there. With college... it’s all about stepping out of your comfort zone. And you feeling homesick already just means you will learn more about yourself in college. You may be a legal adult, but you are far from done maturing if you’re a human being.”
And that’s when it made sense. That’s when it clicked. As far as U.S. law was concerned, I was an adult. But matters of a person’s view on themselves are much more complicated. I didn’t reply immediately, but instead listened to the background noise of Karen’s end of the call. Then I said, “Karen, you’ve helped me more than you realize.”
“Liz, you can call me for anything, I hope you know that.”
After I talked with her another half hour, we exchanged goodbyes and hung up. I sat on my bed with my legs crossed, looking out my window. I crawled to the end of my bed, stretched across to the sill, and opened the window. Warm air, fragrant with lilacs drifted in through the screen. I looked at the nest I had been watching lately that had three baby robins in it. As I watched, prodded by the mother, one of the babies perched on the rim of the nest, opened his wings, and glided to a neighboring tree. Then to another, and another until I couldn’t see it anymore. And I knew that that bird and I were on the same journey as I turned away from the window with a smile on my face and peacefulness in my thoughts.





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