The last few weeks, the last few days, they slip away without warning.
I am brushing my teeth one day when I realize – I am leaving tomorrow – or I am lying in bed at night trying to get to sleep when suddenly I think – soon I will be lying in bed in Scotland. Soon I will be trying to get to sleep in Scotland. Soon five hours will disappear and I will fall asleep or not fall asleep on an airplane and wake up or not wake up in London. I will disembark in London and get on another, smaller airplane, and after another, shorter flight I’ll be in Scotland and I’ll hunt through the airport for a coffee, for a bagel, for a plastic cup of yogurt and granola. I will find the train that will take me to the city or I’ll just get into a cab and let a stranger whisk me away from the airport. After that – I don’t know. I’ll be tired. I’ll be lonely. I’ll be far away and far apart.
I pack things slowly. One thing at a time. I become overwhelmed or distracted or unable to decide what should go into the suitcase next. I sit on the carpet and hold a sweater up to the light and think to myself – when was the last time I wore this sweater? If I bring this with me, will I wear it?
I under pack, and then I add things, and then I over pack. And then I take some things out and I spread them flat on the bed and my cat jumps on each of them in turn, messing everything up, and then he jumps into the suitcase and burrows his way into my things until only his tail sticks up like a little worm. I pull him out by his back legs. He meows angrily and sprints away down the hall. Somewhere upstairs my dog barks. Somewhere in Scotland someone I don’t know yet does whatever they’ve done their whole life without me. It is still strange to think about the people we haven’t met. So many people and so many of them strangers and they’re all out there somewhere, doing something, without us. Even the people you know now, even them, there was a time when you didn’t know them. There are days and weeks and months and years of their lives spent without you. Spent without even the knowledge of you. And isn’t it like – and sometimes doesn’t it feel like, maybe – that without you, they weren’t really real? That they were breathed into existence the moment you first ran into them – in a college writing class, in your friend’s dorm room, in the break room at your work where you said to them – do you have a quarter? Can you spare a quarter, maybe?
But no, of course. You’re being selfish. Everyone is real and everyone is really real without you. You aren’t a force at all; you’re just a girl clinging desperately to whatever scrap of twentysomethingness she has left. You’re just a girl deciding what sweaters to bring with you when you move across the country. You’re just a girl fishing a cat out of a cardboard box. You’re just a girl trying to fall asleep, you’re just a girl brushing your teeth and you are certainly just a girl letting time slip slip slip away before the day you finally cave, you finally give in, you finally admit – okay, now. Now I have to start packing. I leave tomorrow.