Friday, February 22, 2008

The clock is ticking

"Yeah, I like Stanford. It's pretty nice," I told Mommy after she finally summed up the courage to ask me the paramount question: So how was Stanford?

"YOU DOOOOO?!" she asked me after prancing around my room for a few seconds. "Oh, if you go to Stanford, I can make you delicious meals on the weekends and visit you whenever I like. This is perfect!"

I suppose she forgot that she doesn't cook on a normal basis in the first place. We used to have a cook who would come in a couple times a week to make palatable food, but nowadays we just eat whatever my dad stir-fries together in twenty minutes.

I didn't have the heart to tell her that my college counselor and I were discussing just how much I would probably love going to college in New York City -- "Now, I'm still getting to know you, but I'm predicting that Columbia/Barnard and NYU are just going to take your breath away, with Vassar at a close second. Oh, I'm so glad we've listed Vassar too," my cheerful college counselor said as she beamed away at my blank face, still trying to comprehend the idea that my life could be incredibly different in less than a year.

I never told my mommy the truth: my education and future career plans are more likely to flourish on the east coast, especially in New York City. When she danced around my room in extreme glee at the idea that I actually liked Stanford, I realized that I am going to be breaking her heart in about a year.

What is it like to be an immigrant mother who works 10 hours a day so that her two spoiled daughters can have the life that she never had? What is it like to be alone in this country with no close friends and a broken marriage? What is it like to know that your first-born daughter, the daughter you carried to your labs in graduate school, will be out of your reach very soon? What is it like to spend your life bragging about your daughter's second grade first-place poetry writing awards -- when those same little fingers that scribbled up poems about flowers are typing away on college applications essays?

I'm scared to leave my mommy because my sister and I are all that she has in this country. I'm scared to leave my best friends, the kind of best friends who make you realize that lovers aren't necessary as long you've got some chick flicks, tissues to pass around, and a whole lot of giggles. I know I'm going to meet a lot of amazing and interesting people in New York City this summer and for the rest of life, but I do wonder if any more of these people will be best friends I split my finger open for while baking cupcakes for them. Everyone changes in high school, from the first nervous step onto campus freshman year to the last gaze towards the football field after graduation. Yet, I'm still best friends with the same people as I was with freshman year. Mostly -- sometimes people are yanked away from you.

My eight weeks alone in New York City this summer will test me. I'm still trying to fathom the idea of waking up for work at a big corporate building, riding the subway using a Metrocard with only a transit map as a guide, and going to bed in a small room where my belongings are stowed in a set of luggage. This is what I've dreamed of since I was in middle school -- the fresh teenager in New York City, interning for a huge magazine and gaining new perspectives.

Before I graduate in May 2009, I want my Mommy to know that no closet-sized sterile room will ever replace the home that she provided me. I still have four months of junior year left, and a whole year of senior year left -- but I'm growing and learning. Slowly but steadily.

And if I'm growing and learning, I always want to have a heart ready to love, lips ready to speak, eyes ready to weep, and arms open to embrace and forgive.

Miss Couturable
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