I’m not even sure when exactly I decided to call it quits in Amarillo. In fact, I find it funny that I am calling it quits in Amarillo. Up until my Sophomore year of high school, I absolutely loved Amarillo. It was fitting, big enough and kind. I truthfully did not see why people wanted to move away from here. I even made fun of people for it!
Now, of course, I relate to the ones wanting to leave ASAP.
Two years ago today, I had plans to transfer to Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, receive my Bachelor’s degree in Journalism — and then I had no idea what after that.
Yes, I planned on moving to a city no more than an hour and forty-five minutes away from me. I planned on living full-time in a city which literally consists of a big university in a small-town feel (with a hundred Starbucks located everywhere on University Blvd). I had dreams that really weren’t dreams, but escapes from Amarillo.
Yet these ‘escapes’ weren’t thought out too well, aside from my love of Texas Tech for years prior to college. I knew I wanted to move away from the city and do something ‘big’. But what is ‘big’? Sharing a dorm with someone for four years? Living in an average city with an average journalism program?
It wasn’t until sometime last summer that I decided Missouri was in fact the place I needed to be, after looking at many other colleges around that area of the country. (Because, really, I’m not even sure when I decided to visit St. Louis for the first time. It was a spur of the moment sort of thing, I believe.) I asked around people who attend the University of Missouri, I asked people who are just citizens of St. Louis (and the metropolitan area) and I researched and looked at that part of the country.
It was beautiful. I wanted to leave here and live there almsot immediately.
Eleven hours and 757 miles stand in my way, but so, so, so much more things are blocking me from jumping in the car with my friends and making the one-way drive to a state which I had never thought twice about before. Aside from the given — money saved, job secured and new lifestyle — I cannot sit here and lie to you and admit I have no idea what to expect.
Taking that first trip to the city last October was fun, but incredibly daunting. It marked the first time I was travelling completely on my own, and I (gladly!) had to make all the plans for transportation, hotels, general costs, etc. It could have been a much better trip, but you live and you learn. I don’t have any regrets, and as small as it was, the trip taught me things needed for my move in 43 days.
I returned to the city, with my mother this time around, and fell in love with St. Louis, Columbia and everything around it even more. As if I carried any doubts about making a move all on my own, in a city in which I know no one, this small venture affirmed my thoughts yet again: excited, but not knowing what to expect.
I would love to find a group of urban explorers, join their group and find a whole new batch of abandoned buildings to discover. I would love to meet awesome people right off the top of my move to the city. I would love to find my place in the city in a way that I have never experienced in Amarillo.
But, I know myself too well. While I know these will all happen in time, the way I get said results won’t happen in the manner I dream of. Because while I carry dreams for the future, it’s like life loves to throw curveballs at me on a yearly basis; that of which has me looking back to earlier and laughing at my naiveness.
(And, in some ways, I feel exactly like I did when I was graduating high school. Life was changing before I could catch up with it! New possibilities! New adventures! While these two years have sped by, I still can’t help but laugh at all my Facebook posts regarding graduation. I’m sure two years from now, I’ll be laughing at my blog posts and tweets about the move to St. Louis!)
Deep down, however, I’ve come to terms with the fact I had movie-like expectations for my last few months in Amarillo. I was going to reunite with old friends and rekindle forbidden relationships! I was going to finally get to photograph the inside of the fantastic abandoned hospital! I was going to have a sendoff that resulted in many pictures and many tears!
But — it isn’t like that. These past few months have been dull, stressful and abnormally slow. I understand I want to be elsewhere now, but things must come true first. And it’s those things which leave me thinking late at night and leave me almost second-guessing my move.
Being totally honest, I’m downright terrified. All of the things I felt would come eventually have come and gone already, and it has been one giant slap in the face to the laziness I’ve partaken to prepare everything. I could blame a million different things — but it’s my fault for not planning things out like I dreamed of.
Throughout all of this, though, I have come to recognize my dreams that excite me each and every time I think about them. I will begin my last two years of education at the University of Missouri, receive my Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and finally work a job that I am both qualified for and love with a passion. Throw studying abroad in London in the mix, as well as seeing parts of the country and world I haven’t seen before, and you have a very happy, very content Joel.
Forty-three days remain, and I’ll be in an apartment overlooking the Gateway Arch, with me, myself and I.
In forty-three days, I’ll look back at this post and think, “Where did the time go?” in disbelief until find something else to laugh at. I will have finally made it out of a city which taught me so much and sent me on my way.
In forty-three days, I can begin the journey I was supposed to make all along. And that makes me very happy.