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copyright 1999-2001

after school by Emily J. Wolf | 1 2
continued from page 1

Slowly, I accumulated more and more things in an effort to make me feel as though I had a home. I brought my books here including the much-loved books of my childhood and I collected hand-me-down furniture from my parent's house. I bought kitchen appliances and gadgets and even the same metal hanging baskets my mother has in her kitchen. These things gave me a makeshift, if material, semblance of home while I was away at school; these objects, so familiar and comforting, gave me something to hold onto, temporarily, until I could create a sense of home in my mind.

Now, three degrees later, I am finally done with my schooling, and I'm to join the slightly-more-real-life working world. I will sell my textbooks and some of my novels, finally, in a last-ditch effort to diminish the number of books I'm moving. I will get rid of my skis, which made winters here less oppressive and claustrophobic. I will give away the ice-cream maker (a hand-me-down from my parents) I never used while at school, but remembered using once, as a kid, with my father. I will say goodbye to the university library, the grungy bars, the pizza places that fed me, and the classrooms where I dreamed away whole semesters. 

As I'm getting rid of the trappings of my life as a student, something is shifting in me. More and more these days I'm imagining life as an adult in a big city with a real job. I imagine waking before nine a.m. to catch a train to my job. I imagine evenings that aren't spent analyzing literature, but instead spent lazily reading for fun again. I realize, slowly, that Sunday evening will no longer be spent writing papers or catching up for the week ahead. My time will no longer be divided into semesters and breaks in school, as it has been for the past nineteen years of my life as a student. Coming home from a long break at my parent's house, the university towers will no longer welcome me back to the place I have come to call home.

So, just as the Ox-Cart Man sold his goods at market the wool he'd mined from his sheep, the harvested vegetables, his cart, and, finally, his ox to prepare for the long winter, I cart my books off to the used bookstore and distribute the furniture to friends that won't fit into a tiny New York apartment. I pack away folders of school notes and papers, and I fix the buildings of the university in my head so they are always there. I say good-byes to my friends still studying, and kiss my very first car on the hood before I sell it off to a young college student. I try hard not to hold too tight to my possessions the things that have helped me live here in this little city - but I cling to my memories of this place and remember the promise of life after school.

Emily J. Wolf (lupa@core.binghamton.edu) is a free-lance writer living in Brooklyn. By day, she works in textbook publishing.

check out these related articles: home sweet homes | confessions of a first-time homeowner 

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