See you when I see you, Louisville

“It was one of those mornings where you beat your alarm to the punch. He cursed himself as he rolled out of bed, wishing that he could will himself to sleep for a few more hours. It wasn’t exhaustion that he was hoping to avoid, it was the reality of what he was about to do. Scuffling his feet into the bathroom, he stared at himself through sleep-laden eyes while he willed himself to wake up and face the day. ‘You know this is what we need,’ he thought to himself as he squinted from the burn of his fresh contacts, ‘this is what we have needed for so long.’

The house looked so young, so bare and story-less. Without the pile of laundry by the stairs, last night’s glass of water by the futon, and the medusa’s head of N64 wires the rooms looked like blank canvas waiting to be used. He shrugged these thoughts out of his head and finished up the work that had to be done. Surprising himself by how quickly everything went, he hurried through the house to check that he wasn’t leaving anything behind that wasn’t meant to be left. He ferried the last of his stuff out to the car, raided the fridge one final time, and backed out of the front door with his Impellizeri’s half-baked pizza in tow.

‘This is it,’ he said to the material things that represented his life, now all packed and stuffed into his car like a real life Tetris puzzle. He cruised out of the driveway for one last time and exhaled, but whether it was out of relief, nervousness, or just the hopes that it’d make him go faster he couldn’t tell you. He just had one final stop.

One doesn’t leave a city without one’s favorite donut. He slid into the curbside parking and thanked whatever white-clothed deity in the clouds that it wasn’t crowded. He wanted to make this quick. ‘I’ll have three bacon donuts and two bear-claws, please,’ he said to the same lady who had taken his order last week. Scanning the room to see if there were any obvious regulars he could compare himself to, he decided that once a week wasn’t nearly enough to qualify so let the, ‘Guess this makes me a regular now, huh?’ quip fall to the wayside. He also knew that, try as he might, there was no way they would believe that these were for his family. But without that all he was prepared for was a smile and a few singles for the girl when she came back. As he hurried out through the big glass doors being held by the kind old man in the red ball cap he realized that that perfect stranger of a donut girl would be the last person he talked to in Louisville.

Pulling out of the spot, he debated with himself whether to take the long way to see campus and Bardstown Road one last time or just make full steam ahead to the Waterson. He opted for full steam ahead.

The tears came as he looped off the Preston Highway to merge onto 264. This entire time he had been the one who was consoling the others. His friends and family that were sad to see him go, worried about his safety, and who couldn’t really understand what it was he was doing. He had been the one that said everything would be fine. But everyone was so busy with their own emotions they had never realized to ask him about his. He couldn’t blame them, the last thing they needed to hear was that he was nervous and scared, too. So he cried.

He cried for all of the people who he was leaving in Louisville. He cried for leaving the city that had been home for the past 5 years; the city that had given him so much. He had loved and lost and loved again in this city, experienced some of his highest highs, and found people who would be with him for the rest of his life. And he cried because, no matter how much he loved his friends and this city, this was something that he had to do. For him.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

I have only been gone from Louisville for a single day and I already miss it terribly. I wrote this post not because I wanted to make anyone feel bad or to make you worry more but because I wanted you to know what I was going through as I left. (I have also always wanted to write a post like this and finally gathered the balls to do it). On the surface, I was happy-go-lucky and worry-free about leaving Louisville and embarking on this one-way European adventure. But I am also nervous and scared and sad.

Now this isn’t the kind of nervousness you get when you think there is a killer in your shower but the kind you get when you go on that first date with the beautiful girl who you want nothing more than to make smile. The nervousness that comes from recognizing that something is good, wanting it, and not wanting to bungle it all to hell. Nerves on game-day don’t mean that you aren’t prepared or supposed to be there (unless you’re the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl! BA BOOM BOOOM) but that you are a damn human being.

When I say I am scared I am not talking about being scared over my physical safety, for while I recognize the risks that I am taking on with these choices I also thoroughly believed I am equipped to face them. I have put a lot of myself into this trip and whenever you find yourself investing so much time and effort and love into something the greater your fear of losing it. But, as in all other things, I have a choice on whether I want to let that fear control me and I am not going to let it do that. I recognize it is there and I want to let you all know that it is there, but by no means is it going to stop me from pursuing this dream.

And I am sad. Because I have left an incredible life behind in Louisville and the States. The friends, family, and loved ones that I found myself surrounded by on a daily basis was nothing short of incredible. I was young and happy in an incredible city that even now I wish I had spent more time exploring. Sure, the job was a dark spot, but that would have changed even if I wasn’t going to Europe. What I am saying is that even though I am insanely, uncontrollably excited for my trip I am also going to miss you all terribly. You are my people and no amount of time or distance is going to ever change that.

PLEASE do not think that I am having second doubts or want to be talked out of this decision. If that is what you have gotten from the last few paragraphs than you truly do not understand who I am. But it is important for me to be as transparent as possible with all of you (and myself) and so that is why I have written this post. It was a way for me to let you all know that I DO recognize the intensity of this trip and the risks and that just because I am jumping out of my skin to get to Europe doesn’t mean it was easy to leave any of you.

I want you all to smile knowing that I am about to go do something that I want more than anything and then chuckle at the idea of me digging holes to poop in. Because that is what this adventure is about; finding the laughter and beauty in this world. I will do everything I can do do that for you and I hope that you will do that for me.

See you when I see you, Louisville. You will always be special to me.

Ben

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