What is a smudge stick?

I’m lonely. I’m tired. I stayed up the night before my flight departed because I wanted to soak up every minute with my loved ones. I made sure not to hug them too tight or get too sentimental because it was just too much. Instead of telling them how much I don’t want to leave them, how I appreciate their constant support and love them so, I just settle for playing Cranium.

I want to leave, this is what I’ve always dreamed of – but I want to stay. I want to stay in comfortable South Florida and drive my beat up Camry -- affectionately called Killa Cam -- and stay safe, instead of confronting my fears like a school yard recess fight.

Truth is, I am terrified. The last couple weeks leading up to this point, my fear has crippled me to the point that I have evaded tackling my hefty To-do lists in lieu of playing The Sims 3 for hours. It’s too scary.

But I'm here anyway; I somehow packed all my life into two suitcases and got on a Jet Blue flight at 6:00am yesterday morning. I felt numb; I didn’t have the teary-eyed goodbye I re-played over and over in my head. I just hugged my boyfriend, told him how much I will miss him, and walked into the airport. It didn’t hit me until I walked in my dorm.

The suite is set up so immediately when you walk in there is a room with three beds, then a bathroom and a back room with two beds. The bed closest to the entrance was empty. I looked around the room. One bed draped with a Victoria’s Secret PINK comforter, a bejeweled CHI flat iron, a MacBook. I just burst into tears. Who are these people? I am moving to their space. Staying true to my nature, I immediately followed the steps for a panic attack.

“I don’t want my bed right by the door. I’ll have no privacy; they must all be friends and hate me already. From looking around at the photos posted I can tell I’m the black girl. Oh no! I hate New York! I hate this place! I hate eve— ” my self-loathing was interrupted by a knock at the door. It was the Housing Assistant coming to check if everything was okay and to ensure I was in the right place. I wasn’t.

Because of my panicking, I didn’t even realize that the bed in the room in the back was mine! The pretty, spacious room with a huge window that let in sunlight (I LOVE sunlight) right over my bed and overlooked a beautiful, Gothic church. This space was perfect. In the corner, out of the way – and mine. Not all mine, I do share the room with another girl attending Tisch, but at least this side is mine.

It’s  only noon? What to do? I’m in one of the busiest cities in the world and I have nothing to do. No friends to call to watch crappy reality TV with, no one to go to lunch with, just me – alone. I think I felt even more alone than usual because I’m surrounded by people. People everywhere! At Whole Foods – and this is not exaggeration – I felt as if I were in line at a theme park. A theme park out of George Orwell's 1984. It’s so intense. You line up by items, fewer than 10 or over 10. Over? Okay, to the right. Now, choose your fate. Which color line shall you join? I picked green. You stand in your color line and a computer system attached to a flat screen television hanging in front of the line shows all the colors and flashes the next available register in the colors in a pattern. So every line gets one turn each round. “Register 16,” says the robot TV as the number 16 flashes in the yellow rectangle. The coordinating person rushes to register 16.

That’s just what I mean. In the Whole Foods where I’m from you would never see that, but for the busy, overcrowded NYC it’s necessary. I knew that already, though. I knew it would be like this. I asked for advice from person after person. I researched everything and anything I could online. Including discovering my dorm is haunted, and following the advice of my Native American server in Miami I bought smudge sticks to help cleanse the space.

Man at Whole Foods: “Smudge what?”

Me: “Smudge sticks. It’s actually called white sage, but when it’s bundled together it’s called smudge sticks.”

Man: “What’s it used for?”

Me: “Cleansing a space of any negativity entities. You light it, blow it out like an  incense, open all the doors, windows, drawers, anything that can be opened and wave the stick in every crevice in a clockwise motion around the house.”

Man: *blank stare*

So, you can see where that went. I actually found them, too. But I haven’t felt the need to use them. This place feels fine. And I’ll be fine. I know it. It’s just that some things can only be experienced. No one could have told me what this would be like. I had to do it for myself. I just can’t wait for that part when I say, “it was definitely worth it. All the sadness and stuff, it really paid off.”

It will come.