Dear Eighteen

You’re finally coming home tomorrow. I say this as if I have been waiting forever, and even though it feels as though I have been, it’s probably fairly important to make myself a mental note: I have never met you, not once in my whole life. This leaning tower of anticipation defies gravitational law. I have, however, heard so much about you that I think I know what to expect once I finally do [meet you]. Perhaps this is the reason why I’ve been having extended conversations with my ceiling at night, or the reason why the nightmares stop by more frequently these days.

Despite the bags under my eyes and the chills down my spine, I still want to get to know you better. My knowledge of you is limited to word of mouth. Your presence may not change the present as dramatically as I imagine it to, but I still feel as though I have gravely misunderstood you all these years. I’m aware this is my fault. You kept trying to tell me more about yourself as the time gap between us shrank, but it didn’t take much for me realize that I have always been running away from you. I kept saying that I wanted to hear your side and that I wanted you to speak to me; that I wanted your metaphors to find a place in my poetry; that I wanted you and nobody else to spell out your adventure stories… yet I continued to run anyway. I avoided any and all signs of you as if they were the plague. I blocked you out.

And now… I don’t think I’m ready for your arrival.

The mere thought of your feet at my doorstep leaves me aquiver. You’ve met some of my friends—you know them well, treat them well, and get along with them well—and when I’m entangled in my little invisible knots of anxiety, I fear the climbing likelihood of my dissimilar fate. Will you and I click in the same way? What if I don’t belong to the clique you’ve created? What if I don’t fit the new label I’ll be assigned? The questions seem to multiply by themselves and it doesn’t help that I have always pictured you a shapeshifter: one day a goal, the next day an anchor, a monster the day after that.

While I am the type to grow bored of the more trivial things rather quickly, when it comes to matters of this kind, getting me to let go is like trying to pry open an iron fist. We both know that once you and I cross paths, I will have no choice but to bid adieu to someone else quite dear to me. My heart feels heavy. If only I knew you better, if only I had properly spent every day of my forever, if only… you weren’t coming home tomorrow.

But you are, and things have to change. Though I’m biting my lip, I welcome you with open arms.