All through college, the goal is just over the mountain.

You just need a Job and a Diploma, capital J, capital D. So you work for free, you stay up late, you talk to the right people, you send out applications.

And you do not think once — or at least, I didn’t — about what will happen when you’ve made it over the mountain. I think in this job market, I didn’t actually think I would make it.

So you climb over and you realize there is actually something else there, but you haven’t prepared for it and you don’t know where you are. I keep asking myself that — where am I?

Where I am is making seemingly constant mistakes, and learning. Seriously, learning so much.

Where I am is making it through pay cycle after pay cycle without having to ask my parents for money, feeling like I’m finally starting to get my life together…then forgetting to return a handful of Red Box movies and throwing my budget off for weeks.

Where I am now is missing things, still. Where I am is driving to my apartment in the dark and missing my best friends fiercely, out of nowhere. Where I am is not quite knowing what to say over lunch tables because there’s so I’ve wanted to say in the gaps of months between.

I miss college in a persistent, broken-record way, but more than anything I miss that constant sense of something-new-is-next. I miss that feeling that everyone you meet is a possibility, that you may never speak to them again, or they may be your friend for the rest of your life. I don’t feel that way these days. I mostly feel in-between.

Where I am is a place where, finally, the things that are wrong don’t ruin the things that aren’t. Where I am is little pockets of joy that take me completely by surprise. The things I enjoy have gotten so much simpler; the swish of the dishwasher (accomplishment) while I finally sit on the couch with a glass of wine or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s is decadent. My world has narrowed, and I don’t mind it.

Where I am right now is not sure. I’m barely, fuzzily beginning to picture what might be next, to have some vague understanding of what I might want on this side of the mountain.

I hope it will be good. I hope there will be joy.

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