I was afraid.
I inherently knew that I had to go back to my alma mater.
Not the school so much, but really, the city.
I had been through so much, this year. I knew I had to go where the love was at. Where I didn’t have to worry about arbitrary shit like “is my ex gonna be here?” and “what passive aggressive bullshit will I have to deal with today?”.
Just love. Love. That’s all I remember about Norfolk. Love. Any bullshit I had to deal with in undergrad melted away. Or I forgot about it. Or I grew past it. Past beefs no longer exist. It’s like entering another planet.
Nothing like home.
NYC is toxic. I needed a break from all that poison in the air, literally and figuratively. I can’t leave just yet, my life has really trended upward itself in the last few months. There’s a ton of opportunity; opportunities I can really take advantage of. With that said, NYC still kills you. Slowly. People will try to sell you on otherwise; they also tie their identity to living in NYC. I am not one of those people.
But I still love my city. And my borough. But when you spend a good year, year and a half, dealing with terrible experiences in it, you may need to go elsewhere for a few.
So I left.
What I was so afraid of was…….had my experiences permanently changed me? Do my friends in VA love someone who no longer exists? I am a dramatically different person from this time, last year. I physically don’t look the same (hours of gym solitude, with bouts of terrible, depression fueled eating in between), I am on another plane emotionally, and I am nowhere near as spiritually in sync as I once was. All of these things together affect your personality, what you do, what makes you smile, what pisses you off, etc. I was afraid that my friends would not recognize me, that we couldn’t hang out and laugh like we used to. The free-wheeling, carefree Robert was dormant for so long, could I bring him back? Was he even real anymore? I didn’t know. I never knew.
I was so concerned because…that’s my biggest fear. I have always been afraid of “losing myself”. I’ve watched people work their asses off to become successful, get there, and completely lose touch. I’ve witnessed people go through incredibly painful situations and never be the same after. The fact that these could become my reality, terrifies me. I have been afraid of recognition and being great at what I do (whatever that may be), forever. I never really think my bad experiences have affected me long term, but they certainly have. I’ve seen the pitfalls up close; I didn’t want to be a victim.
I knew that I was coming off of a bad stretch, and depression (and anxiety!) that existed before that only worsened over time. I was….sullen. I was not myself. Certain things going right for me, namely me getting into Cosmo and getting published on Noisey (the start of two things that have been dreams of mine, for a really long time). I felt…better. Right before Homecoming, I started to feel regular again. But this would be a test; just how “regular” was I?
I was really regular.
Norfolk felt like 2009 again. Back when I was much happier. Back when I had weak ass struggle waves in my head. Back when everything was ok. Love at every turn. No pain. No suffering. No sadness at all. Old friends. New friends. It was great.
Everyone treated me like they always have. Some of them knew what was going on with me. They showed me a lot of concern, a lot of care, never made me feel awkward. It was therapeutic.
They didn’t have to look out for me. I haven’t stayed in touch as well as I need to. I don’t feel I’ve done enough as a friend.
But regardless of what I do (or don’t do), the love never left.
The love never left.