I Cried For the First Time When Leaving Home at Age 22

I’ve never really cried leaving home.

In fact—I always found myself crying on the way home. Be it on the bus back from camp as an eight-year-old, my flight back from Barcelona after my travels abroad or my drive out of Ann Arbor for the last time as a college graduate. In those instances, leaving meant an exciting new adventure, and my journey back meant I was saying goodbye to the friends that I made, the places I grew to love, and all of the happy carefree memories made there. Coming home simply meant returning to my parent’s watchful eyes and assuming all responsibilities I had left behind.

when a young adult leaves home

I spent a mere three weeks at home after graduation before my big move to the big city. And in that time I did all of the things I normally do when I am home. I went on walks with my mom, took my sister to soccer, helped cook dinner and ate copious amounts of popcorn while watching Harry Potter with my brother. Everything was the same, but everything felt different. For some reason, I was overcome with this unfamiliar pang of sadness that I couldn’t shake. I wasn’t just leaving temporarily for college, I was actually moving. When I came back here, would I be coming home? Or just to my parent’s house? I was booking a one-way ticket.  When would I return?

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The weekend before I flew the coop happened to be the weekend that my thirteen-year-old sister became a Jewish woman. It was total madness for my parents: one moment they’d be discussing how much rent I could afford in Manhattan and the next we’d be rushing to get my sister’s dress tailored because it was too long, of course. It all felt very weird. Finally the weekend festivities began, and I tried my best to put all of my anxiety about the future behind and enjoy these last few moments with family.

It was all a blur: watching Josie deliver her Torah portion and give the most beautiful speech, soaking up every moment with my crazy extended family, and dancing the night away with my boyfriend, aunts and uncles and parents at my sister’s party. This was it.

As I sat in the MSP airport that Sunday morning, I cried. I felt like an 8-year-old on the camp bus: desperately clinging to the amazing memories of my childhood in the magical Minnetonka, Minnesota. Yearning for underappreciated everyday moments of home life like helping my dad load the dishwasher, or singing with Abe in the kitchen, and dreading the responsibilities of waking up every morning and going to work… forever… and ever.

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As I feel the subway rumble under me in my New York apartment, it is still hard for me to think about that weekend. And don’t get me wrong: I am happy. As happy as a person can be during such a big transition. I love my job, I am surrounded by friends, and I am getting into the swing of what I hesitate to call my adult life. And New York, as shocking as this may seem to a Midwesterner, has its way of pleasantly surprising you.

My fear of this move being “different” wasn’t irrational— things are not the same as they were during my temporary away status and the responsibilities of grown-up’hood can be overwhelming. I do find myself missing the safety net of my hometown training wheels and wondering if I will be able to make it on my own with just the two. But I’m hoping that with time, I will find my balance. And soon enough, I’ll be cruising down Broadway burning rubber. And I will come back home/to my parent’s house/whatever I am supposed to call it to show my mama what I accomplished. And she will be proud.

And when I leave again, maybe I’ll cry. And that is pretty special.

Related:

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On the Cusp of Graduation: The Fading of My Childhood Room

College Graduation Gifts Your Off To Work Kids Will Love

Sophie Burton is a graduate from the University of Michigan, pursuing a career in magazine journalism. She loves peanut butter, yoga, singing in the car and her baby sister.

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