I don’t know if I’m ready to leave the nest and grow up yet. I don’t know if I can handle leaving my family. I don’t know if I want to leave any of my friends. I don’t know if I’m ready to leave everything that’s always been so familiar to me. Like knowing which restaurants are overpriced, and which ones have cute servers. Knowing which stores have great sales or if their clothes fall apart after one wash. Knowing where all the thrift shops are. Knowing where the record stores are. Knowing my way around town. Knowing where the train tracks are. Knowing someone is always close by when I need help or I want a friend to be with. Knowing where all of my memories were made. Knowing where the concert venues are. Knowing where the family-owned movie theaters are that play films that have been out for months but aren’t playing anywhere else anymore. Knowing where cops hide out on the side of the road, waiting for drivers to pull over and ticket. Knowing which roads will be crowded at what time of the day. Knowing whether or not I should wear a sweater, because let’s face it, this weather can be pretty flaky. Knowing where the wildflowers and pretty weeds go. Knowing when the animals come out when it starts to warm up as Spring comes. Knowing where athletes like to eat during the off-season. Knowing which places are hiring, and which places you’d never want to work at in a million years. Knowing where the science center is. Knowing where my old house is. Knowing how to get through a winding neighborhood without getting lost. Knowing which neighborhoods I should probably lock my car doors in. Knowing which intersections have short green lights. Knowing where the high schools are so I can avoid driving past them when the students are released. Knowing which stores play Rush and Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots. Knowing what radio stations play the songs I like and don’t like. Knowing when the State Fair or local festival will come rolling through town. Knowing where the zoo is, and whether or not they have the big cats that I like. Knowing where the craft supply stores are. Knowing where the book stores and libraries are. Knowing where I can find odds and ends that wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me or the person I’m buying them for. Knowing which streets are notorious for prostitution so my friends and I can crack jokes at each other when we’re broke, like, “Hey if you need another job I here there’s a sidewalk square on Van Buren with your name on it!” Knowing where to go to find the best candy that nowhere else has. Knowing which malls are busts and which malls have all the stores I like. Knowing where the cheapest place to buy a 10-Piece McDonald’s McNugget meal is. Knowing where my friends work so I can get a discount when I’m broke. Knowing where the sports memorabilia places are when I’m feeling crazy and decide to spend $100+ on a plaque of my favorite teams or players. Knowing where I should watch my step. Knowing where I can make copies for free. Knowing where my favorite banks are when I need to cash my checks or take money out. Knowing when to start saving for concert season. Knowing where the good picture-taking spots are. Knowing where to find pretty dresses. Knowing where auto parts stores are for when something goes wrong with my car. Knowing which college to root for when football seasons rolls around. Knowing the reputations of the players on the state’s professional teams. Knowing where to go to hike. Knowing where the best places to stargaze are. Knowing where I can’t go without being harassed or getting lost or breaking a law. Knowing where I can break a small law and not get caught. Knowing where the butterflies go. Knowing where the romantic areas are. Knowing where the grumpy old people live so I can hear them complain about the kids and their noisy toys day in and day out. Knowing which apartment complexes to stay away from. Knowing who I shouldn’t talk to because they have a nasty reputation. Knowing who is cool with what behavior. Knowing where I can say whatever I want, even (and especially) if it happens to be vulgar and inappropriate and not safe for children to hear. Knowing where historic moments happened. Knowing where to go to see the street performers and slightly out-of-mind homeless people spill the secrets of the world. Knowing where the tattoo and piercing parlors are, so that when I save up enough money I can always get my next piece. Knowing who the good artists are. Knowing where the best graffiti will show up, and who will put it there. Knowing that there are people my age starting up their own businesses and legacies, and that I have the ability to help them change their lives. Knowing when the seasons will start to change, and whether or not I should just throw away my flip flops, because really who wants their toes to freeze in January? Knowing where the lakes are so my friends and family and I can go camping for Labor Day weekend and take the boat out. Knowing where the dog park is, so I can be a semi-decent dog owner and let my furry friends let their freak flags fly every once in a while. Knowing which roads have potholes and which roads have no outlet to the next street over. Knowing where to go when I want to ride a roller coaster or play SkeeBall. Knowing what to expect when I hop on the freeway in the middle of the day. Knowing that there are friends and neighbors surrounding me to have my back. Knowing that I can tell my story to someone who will be able to connect with it and relate to it.
Knowing my life is here.