I know the title sounds dire, but it really isn’t all doom and gloom. It’s that I have 24 hours left before I pack up my belongings, move to a small town in wine country where I know no one and begin schooling in a career that has taken me by surprise. This time tomorrow, I will be driving up to the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, CA to move into my dorm room (albeit it is a single) and prep for my first day of classes as a culinary student.
I am officially scared now. I have been able to play it cool for the last month, but today I have butterflies since I actually have to pack; clothes, school supplies, sheets, towels, etc…..just like preparing to leave for Stanford, something I did in the Fall of 1994. It’s been over 16 years since I have had to experience this mix of excitement, fear and dread. However, at 18 years old, I knew that leaving Detroit and moving to Palo Alto was the right thing for me. I knew without a doubt that the decision I had made filling out my Stanford application was one of the most important things I ever would do in my life.
Right now, I am not so sure about culinary school. Don’t get me wrong, applying to the CIA was not a mistake nor am I backing out. I just lack the myopic vision of the world that my 18-year-old self could summon. Now at 34, heading to school seems like a luxury looking at the sacrifices that The Partner is making to ensure minimal debt on my end. I feel selfish looking at what my tuition money could do for my mother and family members. I second guess what my career trajectory will be upon graduation in two years. Will I be able to handle the physical aspects of the programs?
I am chalking this up to first day jitters and a lingering bloodline of guilt that runs deep in my family. One of the things I need to work on is self-confidence and my need to see things as black or white. I tend to rule my life in a fairly linear way….this or that. Yes or no. Left or right. While I love grey as a color, as an aspect of my personal life, I don’t like it. I think it’s due to years of uncertainty while growing up; bouncing between my Grandmother’s home, the new love nest built by my Mom and my Step-Dad and finally my Father’s abode in Detroit. I know many children who have moved multiple times in their young lives and turned out fine. For me, the moves were more gut-wrenching…they produced terror, night sweats and anxiety attacks that I still deal with to this day. Having certainty was calming to me. It’s why I love schedules, plans, organization and those people who do it well.
Right now, I am out of my comfort zone. I got through this discomfort when I was 18 by focusing on the idea that I had to make a change. It was leave or die. And while the situation wasn’t that dire, I believed this notion so strongly that it was easy to convince myself moving across the country was a smart thing to do. I don’t know if I can do the same faux Jedi mind tricks this time around to calm myself down.
So for now, I am going to continue picking out my clothes and neatly folding them into piles. I am going to continue piling my school supplies into neat little stacks. And I am going to try my damnest not to freak out at what tomorrow has in store.
Wish me luck…..everything is about to change.