I got a little weepy when driving through Memphis back to Knoxville yesterday. At the I-240 interchange past the Brooks Rd. exit, the right lane takes you to eastbound I-40 towards Nashville, and the left lane takes you to westbound I-40 towards Little Rock. After resisting the temptation to give UT, my final (unfinished) papers, and the assistantship the finger and hightail it to Central Arkansas for better or worse, I chose the right lane, followed I-240 around to the the Nashville exit, and once again was presented with the same choice: West to Little Rock, East to Nashville, then on to Knoxville. I lost my bearings for just a second.
See, I'm one of those people who (halfway) believes in the power of signs. Not like stop signs, but signs from above (which is problematic for me because I really don't believe in god) that lure me toward a certain....something. Usually when confronted with the same decision more than once, I freak out a bit, nearly convincing myself that something out there is giving me another chance to make the right decision. However, I invariably stick with the choices I've already made, signs be damned.
I guess I can convince myself that choosing the Nashville exit, which was the right lane after all, was the right decision. I did make some significant progress on one of my papers today, and would have made more had I remembered to dress appropriately for the arctic environs of Hodges Library. Besides, I'd stand to lose a lot by giving up and going back to Conway: free school, teaching experience, newly budding friendships. And all for what? A memory of a perfect time in a perfect place with perfect people when I was perfectly happy. Only it wasn't, they weren't, I wasn't. I was a basket case for most of my undergraduate career, over-extending myself with classes and RSOs and student publications because I learned a long time ago that if I keep myself impossibly busy, I don't have time to think about what's bothering me. Repression has been a key factor in my coming of age, I tell you, and it took me getting away from what I know to realize that.
But nostalgia has a way of skewing the truth of matters. For a little longer than a split second, I thought I might actually go AWOL from McClung Tower and back to a time that will not exist again in a place with people that surely have changed since I made my departure that weepy day at the end of July 2007. Of course they've changed. I've changed. And I'm glad I had the good sense to realize these facts before I merged left.