This is a follow-up to a recent column where I whined about not knowing what I was doing here. Now I do know.
Seven months ago I packed up all I could fit in the back of my Subaru station wagon, strapped an antique trunk to the luggage rack on the roof, and drove down I-95 from Georgia, alone. It was a long drive with much left behind: job, friends, family, an ex-boyfriend, home. I didn’t even know where I was going to live, and I had to arrive by four for an interview for a job I didn’t even take.
Instead, I spent a month alone in a studio apartment reading eight hours a day by the pool or hiding inside from the rain, driving through Miami until I discovered that the avenues ran north-south and the streets ran east-west.
The quiet was a balm. I had set off partly driving away from something I no longer wanted and partly driving toward something I didn’t know. That month I was a monk, a nun, and a librarian who went days without a word.
You’d never know it to see me now: bright, open, and confident, writing these words for strangers to read. But I know I’m not the only one out there. Some of you are soon setting off on journeys of your own-either toward or away from something-across continents, across oceans or simply breaths of distance.
You are not alone.
Know this when the silence overtakes you.
I have built a world here and peopled it with friends and work and school. I have a home and a green backyard for Frisbee and neighbors with a grill and a fridge full of beer they’re willing to share. It is sad to think of leaving again for what is only partly known.
I said I did know why I was here, and I will tell you. Tonight I took a walk with two of my friends, women like me who are strong and who are weak. We did what women do and processed all that we don’t understand by sharing it as we pretended to exercise block after block. We went back home and drank wine and ate crackers and cheese with mustard and sat around the table and breathed the same air for just a moment.
I have been blessed enough to find this communion with women many times in my life, but it always comes as a surprise to find people who see the world the same way I do. And it is always a difficult sort of knowing when the honesty of a friend shows me things I couldn’t admit to myself before.
So what does all of this coming and going do for us? What do we learn from this constant uprooting that seems to be the new norm for our generation?
What I have learned is this: there is no uprooting, because we not a tree with roots but a vine with tendrils that climb and intertwine and make our way wherever we find ourselves, lending a small scent of green beauty to the dull gray stone we share.
Angie Henderson is a graduate student in the School of International Studies.