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Seven Postcards Away

By @S F Brooke

The Story

 

The same amount of time that the steam from a cup of tea takes to dissipate is how long it took for my entire life to change. I got accepted into college and in less than forty-eight hours I was seven postcards away from my old life. Smack dab in the middle of San Fran-freaking-sico. My life was like a popped bubble, endlessly floating in a vast sea of nothingness as humanity passed onto the next bubble to pop.  

I was a country girl born in a barren state and my closest neighbors had been an hour away. Now there were people everywhere I walked. Even the grocery stores were crowded. I missed the rooster crowing and the peaceful reading I could accomplish with my cat in my lap. That was all replaced with cars driving, horns honking, and my cat had to be left behind. I felt small. I felt forgotten. I felt as tiny as an ant. The sadness and the loneliness started creeping into the cracks that my soul had since I’d moved to such a big city.

The only connection I had to my old life was the books that I had packed in my suitcase. Books were my comfort, my friends, when the real ones were left behind and I only got text messages and letters instead of the connection of face to face. I grew close to the characters in my favorite classic novels, Pride and Prejudice, The Jungle Book, and Black Beauty. I went through three books a week when I could at home, here with everything going on and all the homework college makes you do I could barely get through one. I loved reading since I was a child, I’d spend hours with my books, and here in San Francisco I again spent hours with my characters because they were the only ones in the same situations as I was. The Wizard of OZ became my favorite book. Books didn’t talk back, but that didn’t stop me from yelling and talking to them. San Francisco is a difficult city to read quietly in, but somehow, I do. Thankfully my music was another friend that I found in this new place. I found solace in the music and instrumentals I could find in my phone and the records my mother had packed for me from home all while feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland as she was falling down the rabbit hole. Home…there was never a feeling that I wanted more than the ability to travel back home. If I had those Red Slippers from Wizard of OZ, I would have clicked my heels the moment the moving van pulled into the driveway. I was seven postcards from home, I know because I sent seven back to my best friend at home. She promised to write back — I don’t think she will, it’s been three weeks. My parents had said goodbye and promised to take care of my cat, Honey, but when I left they had her outside. Mom had never liked cats and Dad didn’t care. I wished I could have taken her with me. 

When the first semester started the loneliness didn’t stop and it didn’t get better. College is tiring, exhausting, and I knew no one. I was labeled weird very quickly, maybe because I didn’t know the top fashion or my country drawl was so ‘uneducated’ according to the popular kids. My routine was made up of school, library, sleep, school, library, food somewhere, sleep, library, school. I missed everyone back home, my parents, my friends, my pets, my old school, everything, and everyone. I barely talked to people, a depression settling over me like a dark cloud. Coming home to an empty apartment was never a good feeling. I printed large pictures that I had taken of my old hometown, my room, and my family and hung them up in my apartment…they were poor substitutes for the real things. There was no joy or laughter in loneliness. I walked down the streets to the campus, walked to the library, walked to the coffee shop, and everywhere there are dozens of lives connected. Thousands of people that know one another, thousands that live in one city. Thousands that feel this pit of sadness in their chests? Maybe that’s just me? Over time, I got used to the idea of sitting alone, of living in the shadows of the humongous buildings that seemed to tower over you. My books were my escape and I delved into their pages as I read in the college’s library. My headphones were firmly placed in my ears and as I met the new main character I felt a presence near me. Looking up, I noticed someone in front of me. 

“Hi! My name is Winifred, you can call me Winnie. Are you new here?” The woman asked, with a smile I wasn’t sure was directed towards me. 

I shook her hand. “Mara. Nice to meet you.” 

“Can I sit here?” 

I nodded, wondering why she wanted to sit near the depressing cloud. I soon realized why as she sat down and slowly we started a conversation. She asked me about the book I was reading and for once I didn’t hesitate to talk about it. Over the next couple of times I was in the library she sat with me, when I was in my depressed moods she brought coffee and simply was there. We talked about books and about school work. I talked about what I was feeling — this homesickness that I’d been experiencing since the day I left — out loud for once as she was a friendly sounding board. Winnie was like a ray of sunshine and I found myself smiling — just a few small ones — for the first time in a year. Winnie managed to unravel the grey ball of anxiety, loss, hurt, and sadness in my chest, filling it with the bright yellowness of friendship. With a timid smile, I thought that maybe I finally found a friend here, maybe I wouldn’t be so lonely. Maybe… I did have a reason to like San Francisco.

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