The impact of saying good-bye and actually leaving did not hit me until the day of my departure. Its strength woke me an hour before my alarm clock would, as for the last time Missy, my golden retriever, greeted me with a big, sloppy lick. I hated it when she did that, but that day I welcomed her with open arms. I petted her with long, slow strokes, and her sad eyes gazed into mine. Her coat felt more silky than usual. Of course, I did not notice any of these qualities until that day, which made me all the more sad about leaving her.
The entire day was like that: a powerful awakening of whom and what I would truly miss. I became sentimental about saying good-bye to many people I had taken for granted—the regulars who came into the restaurant where I worked, the ones I never seemed to find time to speak with. I had to leave all of my friends and also the classmates I had always intended to "get to know someday." Most importantly, I would be forced to say farewell to the ones who raised me.
All at once, the glorious hype about becoming independent and free became my sole, scary reality. I began to feel the pressure of all my big talk about being a big shot going to a big-time school. Big deal. I had waited so impatiently for the day to arrive, and now that it finally had, I felt as if I did not want to go. I suppose that goes with the territory of enrolling in a university six hours from home.
Upon my decision to do so, in fact, all of my personal problems had seemed to fade. I didn't care; I was leaving. I wanted to make it clear to everyone that I wanted to go—and by God, I was ready. Then the day came, and I wondered if I was honestly ready to go.
My dad and stepmom were taking me to school, but first I had to say good-bye to my mom. No one ever said divorce was easy. I met Mom for brunch that morning, and she immediately began talking of my future experiences. More so, she talked a little of her first year away from home—cluttered dorm, shy...
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