Across the Universe

Hey guys, I’m back from college orientation!

Super fun three days spent at the University of Michigan — I made a ton of friends, got a good feel for where everything’s located around there (mainly where the best pizza place is on campus, which is obviously the only thing that truly matters), and registered for my fall classes.

Overall, it was a great experience and I’m actually excited for college now (which I wasn’t before going to orientation), but it was also a very… weird… experience, because there were absolutely no rules there. I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without the need for a buddy system or an adult’s permission. And it hit me while I was there: I didn’t need an adult’s permission because I am an adult now. Which is a feeling I’m not used to AT ALL, because even though I’ve been eighteen for almost two months now, this was my first opportunity to really reap the benefits of that freedom — coming from a city where it’s necessary to have a car to even get to the grocery store without having to walk in the road due to lack of sidewalks, it was strange to be able to walk to not only a store that sold groceries, but also a ton of restaurants and clothing stores and theatres and libraries and just… everything. I went into orientation thinking of those three days being like going to camp, and came away feeling like I’d just gone to Disney World, instead.

Meanwhile, between attending orientation sessions and pigging out on ice cream in the dorm’s cafeteria, I read the young adult science fiction novel Across the Universe by Beth Revis — named for my favorite Beatles song.

(For you diehard Beatles fans out there, I apologize for this being the version from the Across the Universe movie — don’t kill me, but this is the version I always hear in my head when I think of this song. )

I love the lyrics from Across the Universe. Besides being gorgeous (“Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup”), they also really connect with a problem I’ve been dealing with lately, which is that I’m currently in a State of Flux. And it sort of became my theme song for college orientation, as I tried to make sense of this new, much freer and altogether alien world that I’ve been thrown into.

I graduated from high school back in May, but I’m not really gone because I’m still doing a ton of theatre stuff at my school (working at drama camp/performing as a member of the cast in the summer show/going to London next summer with the theatre company/etc). And now I’m supposed to be a college student, but I’m not actually in college yet, and it’s just… I feel like I’m standing between the two, college and high school, and I’m reaching out to both of them, stretching and stretching and stretching, but I can’t quite reach either side. I’m stuck somewhere in the middle instead. This is a problem the characters of Beth Revis’s novel also face, as they travel on a spaceship between our Earth and a new one. And I realized, as I was reading, that the song Across the Universe also describes this sort of lost-and-in-between feeling.

If I remember right, in the movie Across the Universe the character singing the song Across the Universe performs it while on a boat making his way from England to the United States, towards the beginning. (You’ll have to excuse me if that’s wrong; I only saw the movie once, back when it first came out on DVD.) The entire film centers on this idea, of the characters being in a State of Flux as they move from one place and time to another, on and on and on, never quite settling as the world changes all around them.

What it comes down to, in all three of these situations, is that life is changing, and there is no way to avoid that change, because it’s not your own, individual life that’s changing, but everyone’s. It’s not just you, but the whole world thatis changing.

Yet, through all of this, the Beatles sing that “nothing’s gonna change my world.” Up until now, I didn’t really understand that — if the world’s changing, it’s changing. There’s nothing you can do about it, right?

But then it hit me, as I sat in a college dorm room and looked out at the sun setting over the city that I will soon call my own: Not everything has to change at once. While you’re maybe in a State of Flux between being a teenager in high school and being a young adult in college, you can hold onto some things from the past to keep for the future, and it’s those things that can carry you from one place to the next, through your State of Flux; it’s those things that help you hold onto yourself as everything changes all around you, transforming into something that’s new and alien from what you’ve always known. It’s those things that keep you from shattering, from falling apart as you travel “across the universe.”

For me, these things that I hold close as I move from high school to college are simple: Writing. Friends. Theatre.

So even as everything changes all around me, and even as I go through this State of Flux — where I’m not quite one thing, but not quite another… nothing’s gonna change my world. The world might change, but my world — the things that are important to me and that I need in order to be who I am; the things that identify me as me, and no one else… those aren’t changing.

Why am I participating in Camp NaNoWriMo right now, along with doing so much theatre stuff, and trying desperately to keep up with my friends despite it all? Because as everything else is changing, those are the things that don’t have to. Maybe later, but at least not for right now. Those are the things that can carry me.

Those are the things that let me know that even as I travel, from one place to another, and through this State of Flux, and Across the Universe, nothing’s gonna change my world.