Friday, September 4, 2015

Dependence Day

I am pleased to announce that I have survived my first week of college. In my spare moments between scouring basements with moving walls for my next class and trying to find the fourth floor library's checkout desk, I've been thinking about whether I should continue my blog.
Will I be busy with college life?
Am I in a different phase of life than the people we normally identify as teenagers?
But am I still a teenager?
Numerically, yes. And I still care. So I'll keep blogging until I leave for an eighteen month missionary stint at the end of the school year or until I run out of things to say. I think I know which one will come first.
I like to think of myself as independent. I wake myself up. I get myself to class. I keep myself fed. Most importantly, I'm living on my own. When mail comes to me, there is absolutely zero chance it will be addressed to "the parents of Erica Smith". I don't have a curfew. I didn't have an official one living with my parents, but there are no more 11:55 "When are you coming home?" texts.
Whenever I hear footsteps in the hall around midnight, I feel like someone's coming by for a light's out check. But no. It's just some girl getting back from a date. 
But am I really independent? Is anyone?
I have a friend from my hometown who's commuting to class every day. When I found this out, I felt bad for her because she wasn't living the same life of independence as I was. Then I realized I'm not independent either. At least, not in the technical sense. 
Let's look at some definitions of dependence.

1. The state of relying on or needing someone or something for aid, support, or the like.
reliance; confidence; trust:
Her complete reliability earned her our dependence.
an object of reliance or trust.
the state of being conditional or contingent on something, as through natural or logical sequence:
the dependence of an effect upon a cause.
the state of being psychologically or physiologically dependent on drug after a prolonged period of use.
subordination or subjection:
the dependence of Martinique upon France.

Let's focus on the first two and the final definitions, shall we? Three is dependent on number two and I don't really care about drugs and logical sequences right now. 

The most obvious kind of reliance is financial. No modern teenager can pay their own way to college. Not without some source of financial aid. Universities don't come cheap. My hometown friend is living with her parents and her parents are paying for it. I'm living in a dorm room and my parents are paying for it. So in that sense I'm just as reliant as she is.

I spoke more boldly and openly to my family in the last month of summer. I knew I wouldn't be living with them much longer, so I simply didn't need to tiptoe around their feelings the way I did for the first eighteen years of my life. Still, I wasn't stupid enough to burn bridges, because I'm still bound to them financially. Besides, when it comes down to it, I love my family. If trust is a form of dependence than the only way you can truly be independent is to cut off all contact with your family.

In this way I'm finally free. I've mentioned before that my parents turned off our home's router every night and didn't give my brothers and I the wifi password to our own house. When I get on my phone each night, my eyes still go to the wifi icon in the top left corner, waiting for it to disappear. But it never does. The router lives on my desk, it's little green flicker a comforting beacon in our dark dorm room. Even my roommate doesn't touch it. The password only changes if I feel like it. I have the privilege to take Internet access for granted, a force as invisible and necessary as air. And yes, Internet is necessary in the life of a college student, a topic that deserves its own post.

My life has changed drastically in the last week. But in the ways that matter it's still much the same. I'm stuck in limbo, not that I mind. I've always liked halfway points. New Year's, sunrise, and sunset in time, bridges, borders, and vestibules in space. I think I'll like college life for that alone. As for the actual lifestyle changes, well, I'll just have to wait and see. I've got a long year ahead of me.

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