My 6-second Vine loop

I’m not scared to be alone anymore.

I’ve found happiness in myself and I carry it with me on my evening bike rides and runs. I sit on benches, swing on swingsets and pedal through now-familiar neighborhoods.

My single room at Bonaventure, while a colorful space I sought solace in at times, became a lonely prison. I never went out and did anything on my own. I always had to have company. I always had to be in a group of friends. I felt like a lonely, boyfriend-less loser if I went to the dining hall alone after getting out of work at nine o’clock. I entered, I ate, I left. And when he found someone else, I felt even worse.

Being alone meant rethinking every decision I had made; everything I had done. Being alone meant a constant, 6-second Vine loop of things I wished I could take back and pictures I wished had never been taken.

College and the hunger for friends made me yearn for constant company and being “in the know.” I feared the thought of missing out on something or not knowing about an inside joke the next day. Now I’ve realized I just don’t care. 

I’ve been set free.

My group of friends here can hang out as much as they want to –– I don’t feel obligated to stick around like I normally would. It doesn’t bother me to be excluded from what they talk about. I have so much fun by myself that I feel like they’re the ones missing out. And I don’t feel bad for myself and I don’t feel even the slightest twinge of homesickness like I did my freshman year of college. I feel content. I feel happy. I’m seeing more, noticing more and experiencing more. I make time for friends and save time for myself. My hour-long breather at the end of the day consists of a bike ride with the sunset as its conclusion.

It helps knowing that, though I’m alone, it’s never complete solitude; the person who matters the most is always thinking about me.

The view from my favorite bench in the park.
The view from my favorite bench in the park.

Welcome home

Home doesn’t feel like home anymore.

Sure, the dogs greeted me and Weezie the cat made a few appearances, but it’s not my home.

My childhood bedroom with its lime green, sky blue, raspberry pink and orangey orange walls close me in after branching out too far.

I can’t relate to 13-year-old Emily anymore. She’s the one who picked those colors and the bedding. I’m still very colorful, but I shed experiences every time I walk through the doorway. I’m back to the beginning, making the glow-in-the-dark flowers on the ceiling into triangles of Mickey Mouse’s nose and ears. My drawers are full of abandoned poetry books, cellphones and hair accessories. My bedroom door took a beating during my “nobody understands me!”, braces-clad phase. Returning is a bit debilitating and a hit to my morale.

I’m so happy with where I am now.

It’s a new place I am making my own. I’m discovering the area’s quirks, little by little. Thirteen-year-old, metal-mouthed Emily used to gaze in wonder as her oldest brother, Jordan, showed the family around the Chautauqua Institution, an area unbeknownst to us. Now 19-year-old Emily is doing what Jordan did.

I run and check out the neighborhoods. I brought my bike back with me from home this past weekend and discovered a really neat park tonight where I plan to spend a lot of my summer. And you just can’t beat the main, bustling street full of family-owned shops and boutiques. I find something new every time I walk/run/bike down it.

I’m secure with being alone and doing things for me. Running for me. Biking for me. Finding new nooks and new swingsets to swing the evenings away on.

And then watching the sun set every night:

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