Think about leaving all the time. Let this thought consume you, eat at you, contaminate your inner dialogue. Let the topic dominate the conversations you have with your friends, your family, even strangers. Feel yourself become weighed down by your wavering. To stay to leave to stay to leave.
Imagine yourself in a new city, with new sidewalks, new people to watch, new sounds at night. Imagine the friends you’d meet, the steps you’d take, the mistakes you’d make. Get goosebumps over an idea.
Start to feel numb. Drive down the 405, take a walk on Ocean Avenue, go running in Hollywood and feel nothing. Go to your favorite coffee shops, drive through your old neighborhood, cook dinner in your apartment and feel the numbness spread and spread.
Become detached from your things. Your college sweatshirts, your hand-me-down desk, your cherry red Volkswagen. Gradually start to purge yourself of what’s keeping you here — your old notebooks, your faded posters, your colorful kitchenware. Quietly clean, pack, toss, donate, and repeat.
Notice yourself begin to feel lighter. Take a weekend trip home and then take another one. Drive to Santa Barbara for a few days. Stare out the window, let the sun pierce your skin, count your new freckles. Laugh so hard that you cry. Absorb the changes in scenery, in tastes, in weather. Spill your drink, get lost, stay up late, sleep so tight.
Drive back and sink into your thoughts. Feel a tightness in your chest, a stiffness in your breath, an uncertainty in your voice. Start to cut the strings that are still intact. Peel yourself away from the things you felt so glued to before. Goodbye job, goodbye apartment D, goodbye familiar everything.
Cry a little and then cry a lot. Walk past the ocean, pack up your bike, and zip your bags. Buy your ticket to your new place. Watch your legs shake, shake, shake as you click, purchase, print your way out.
Drown in your fear a little bit. Let yourself feel smothered by it, let your mind take you places, and let yourself feel outside of your body. Give yourself as much time as you need.
Then when you’re ready, pull yourself out of the fear pool you’ve created and feel something new. Feel alive. More alive than you’ve ever felt. Let your emotions swirl around you until they dissipate, until you’re left with just you and your choice.