Chapter 29: Taking the Bus Back to Boston

The day before Labor Day, my parents drop me off at the bus station in Hartford. This is it. I'm going back to Boston to start school again. Crap.

"Thanks for everything, Peeps," I say to my parents, kissing both of them good-bye on the cheek. "It's been real."

"Yeah, whatever," my dad tells me with a crooked grin on his face. "Just do me a favor. Hurry up and finish your last year, would you?"

I roll my eyes playfully. "I'll try not to kill myself. How's that?"

He shrugs. "That's as good an answer as any."

Ticket in hand, I jump on the bus back to Boston, back to my home. For better or for worse, Boston will always be the place I call home, especially while I'm finishing up dental school.

After this past school year, I'm apprehensive about starting my fourth and final year of dental school. I'm nervous about taking the remainder of my board exams, completing all the school requirements, meeting new boys, and seeing Michael. Luckily, after making a pit stop at Beth's house on the way home from Lynn's wedding (damn, that girl has always been my voice of reason), I'm back in the game, better than ever. I feel confident that I'll be able to take on whatever the fourth year can throw at me.

I've finally realized something, something that took me from the day I went out on my first date with Michael until now to realize. It might sound cheesy, it might sound trite, but it's so shockingly obvious that I can't believe it took so long for me to get it. I have to love myself first. Before any guy can love me, I have to love myself. I have to be completely satisfied with who I am as a whole before I can be a better half for somebody else. And just because I'm single and I'm not half of a whole, it doesn't mean I'm not whole.

I contemplate this idea during the long bus ride home. I may not be there yet, but I'm sure as hell trying.

On the bus, as I rehash this new concept over and over in my head, I know I'll make it until graduation. I have to. All I have to do is lower my head and plow through...but then again, I've known all along that's what I need to do.

After I get off the bus and trudge back to my studio apartment, the first thing I do is open up the refrigerator. Just as I left it, the only edible item in there is the six-pack of Sam Adams. Crap again. It looks like I've got to hit up Trader Joe's for some groceries. Dental students cannot live on beer alone, though I'm fairly sure some of my classmates are trying their damnedest to do just that.

With some money in my wallet, I exit my apartment building and walk to the nearest T station. The rumble of the train makes me feel comfortable, at home, and - for the first time since I left Boston for the summer - at peace. Walking down Boylston Street after jumping off the train fills me with a sense of comfort and familiarity. Yes, I'm ready. I'm ready to commit myself to my fourth year. It won't be easy, it won't be pretty, and God willing, it certainly won't be sex-free. But I'm ready for it and whatever crap it decides to throw at me.

I don't know what surprises Boston and dental school will spring on me in the coming year. I do know that, whatever happens, there are plenty of people who have my back. I have Jayne and Madison, my partners in crime. I have Hunter and Stephanie. I have Lynn and Andrew, Giana and Jeffrey, Allegra and Pete. I have Dawn and Beth. I have Dahsan and David. I have my parents.

And God help me, no matter what else happens in life, I always have Beantown Pub.