Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Coming of Age in Louisiana

Several significant events have happened in my life since my last post, but I haven't seemed to be able to find the right words to share them. That's not to say that I've now found the appropriate words--the time has simply come to write it out, eloquent or not.

Best Friend Roommate moved to Georgia. The nature of our friendship dictated that we say goodbye casually, a quick hug and "See you in a few weeks," neither of us really knowing whether "a few weeks" meant six weeks or sixty. Had we not outwardly denied the significance of the occassion, it most certainly would have become an emotional ceremony of farewell, similar to the tearfests with which we would send off friends whose fathers had gotten new jobs which took the whole family cross-country back in high school, when moving out of state seemed like the end of the world. Nevertheless, this is the end of an era. Lauren and I have been friends since seventh grade, and have spent what are thus far the best years of our lives together. Certainly we will remember when we are old and gray the time that I punched in the face a guy more than twice my size to defend her honor, the years that we shared an apartment, and the time that she ran from the cops in her mom's Chevy Corsica. They could have shot you!

In high school, we dubbed ourselves The Three Beautiful Blondes. Laura went to college in Alabama, and then there were two. Now, the three of us are spread across the South, and I am the only one left in Louisiana. I can't help but wonder if I've been left behind, if I let opportunities pass me by because I could never quite talk myself into leaving. But then I remember that if nobody brilliant and fabulous stays behind to fight the good fight, our state will remain at the bottom of every good list and the top of every bad one. Nothing will change, and the brilliant will continue to emigrate to the North or the West or the cities of the New South, leaving Louisiana to stagnate like the bayous and swamps punctuating the terrain.

No, it is not enough for me to merely visit Louisiana. This is my place, and I have a purpose here. An already meaningful career takes on a new sense of importance when your state is 44th in Education, 3rd in infant mortality, 9th in violent crime, 2nd in unemployment...the list goes on.

What this boils down to is that my life is shifting. My friendship with Lauren will now be based on phone calls and road trips, no longer coming home and re-enacting the events of my day. Also, I'm a college graduate now, and I have decided to stay in Louisiana--something I believe comes with a responsibility to use my education to make our state a better place (they did pay my tuition, after all). And let us not forget the shift which has the most significant impact on my day to day life--I moved in with a boy. Ladies and gentleman, I believe that I am becoming an adult.