See, it's not going off to school that's scary. It's not leaving my home with its familiar places and beloved people that's scary. It's not jumping headlong into a completely new environment where I don't yet have any friends. It's not even packing up my life and driving it with me over to the next time zone.
It's this gut feeling I have that I'm not coming back.
Not that I'll never be back to Jersey. I will most definitely come back to visit for events and holidays for the rest of my life. It's not even that I don't love Jersey, that I've been wanting to move away, or that my plan has been to go to grad school and not come back. I love Jersey; this place will always be home.
And it's not that I'm afraid of losing people. I've kept touch with long-distance friends since I was fourteen; I know that the most important people will stick around, and those that don't stick around will still bring me great joy via my memories of these wonderful times.
What's just beginning to sink in is that going away to grad school is different than going away for undergrad. Sure, there are many similarities and parallels, but actually going out there means I'm getting on with the rest of my life already. And I'm not staying local like so many of my family and friends have done (and there's such a beauty in that!); instead I'm moving up and out, moving someplace where my family will have to fly in order to come visit me (it's only 13 hours, but Mom can't do long drives), with open possibilities of moving to just about any metropolitan area in the country, and a gut feeling that it won't be the NY Metro Area I'll end up in.
It's like I realize that I'm drawing near to the end of this chapter of my life, only it doesn't end neatly, like the last chapter did. College had a defined finishing point, and that's when I left. Now I'm the only one who's leaving, and everyone else is continuing on in their regular lives. And I am most likely never to return to those lives here - or if I do, it'll be radically different.
I guess what's happening is that I'm beginning to mourn the end of this period of my life, of this time in which I'm living with my family, not in school, working full-time, singing in the choir at my traddy parish, and receiving innumerable blessings through Spirit and Truth (and the friends I've made there). It has been a joyful, extremely blessed period, and I have learned so much. It's only good, natural, and healthy that I mourn the ending of this time.
But that doesn't mean I stop crying. It just means that my sorrow is rooted in the joy of the Lord.
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; Blessed be the name of the Lord!