I probably shouldn't trust the part of my brain that says, "Yes, Kate, you should start writing a blog at 11 p.m." But, for whatever reason, nighttime is usually when I want to write. Vacation journalism fell through. That is okay. I was all excited about it until I actually started to attempt to write every day, at which point I felt like I had little to say that was interesting. When Marie's computer died, I saw it as a sign that we should not require ourselves to produce more written content for deadlines. Grad school does that enough.
Oh, grad school. It's almost 2013, the year I will graduate. I don't know how to make sense of time — the way it can go too quickly and too slowly simultaneously. I can't believe I'm just four months from being done. I can't believe that 75 percent of grad school is already behind me. When I'm in the middle of it, though, the days and weeks drag on.
The weather has been mild enough that this Christmas break has felt like something other than Christmas break. It's just some sort of bizarre pause in time, and I have briefly escaped my grad school reality into an alternate reality of late mornings and days spent in yoga pants. I like being home because I can get hugs whenever I want. I need a lot of comforting these days.
The future seems so up in the air. I traveled to and from Georgia with my family earlier this week, and at one point on the interstate, it was so foggy that we couldn't even see the closest car in front of us. That is how I feel about life now. I don't know what the semester ahead will be like. Even as I'll be wrapping up my time in Columbia, I'll be taking on a new job and beginning my research. It doesn't feel like I've been there long enough to be preparing to leave already, but I'm ready. I'm ready to settle somewhere that isn't so far from home. My heart feels stretched among too many places.
I expect that my memories from Columbia will fade away more than my memories from high school and Asbury. When my mom talks of her time at Mizzou, she talks primarily of the cold weather. She remembers trekking across campus and having to stop halfway to warm up inside a heated building. I think I will remember the friends who welcomed me when I was new in town and the church that I became a part of and the way it felt to have to stand on my own two feet for the first time in my life.
It occurred to me recently that it's funny how much emphasis is put on the changes that take place in adolescence. As soon as you turn 12, there are youth groups specifically for you and books to help you navigate this time of change. (And books for your parents about how to communicate with you once you start, like, totally rolling your eyes at them and slamming doors and saying "whatever" all the time.)
I'm just over here at 23 thinking, Why do adolescents get all the guidance? When you're 12, you're still a kid, and you still live with your parents. Making your bed and doing your math homework are still basically your biggest responsibilities. When you're 23, you have no idea what the heck you're doing. People treat you like a grown-up, but you still feel like a kid.
Twelve-year-olds may have to deal with hormones, but 23-year-olds have to deal with:
- Grad school and all that entails (at least in my case)
- Finding a job, networking, self-promotion
- Figuring out when to move out, where to move, whom to live with
- Figuring out meal-planning and cooking
- Learning to budget
- Maintaining long-distance friendships (>90% of my friendships are long-distance. Sigh.)
- Having good time management
- Being bombarded with engagement announcements on Facebook
- Dating (which is just "a big LOL," as Marie would say)
- Wrapping your head around the fact that things won't go back to the way they once were
- Realizing that this aging thing is just going to keep happening
Basically 23-year-olds have to be beginner grown-ups.
I'm jealous of my married friends — not in a sad, when-is-it-going-to-be-my-turn sense, but just in the sense that I want to know who will be doing life with me. My close married friends are all in times of transition, too. New jobs, new locations, new responsibilities. But they know that they'll have somebody there accompanying them through all of it, carrying half the burden and sharing all of the memories.
This is a total Jesus Juke moment because you could say, "But, Kate, you know Who capital W will be with you!" Yes, well, it would be nice to know who lowercase w will be there, too.
My parents bought my brother a plane ticket so that he can ride to Missouri with me before the semester starts and then fly back to Kentucky. I couldn't bear the thought of making that drive alone. I've made the trip by myself for Thanksgiving and spring break, but I've never done it by myself at the start of a new semester, when the return home seems so far in the future. I usually feel sick to my stomach for days before the goodbyes that precede a new semester. My first few days in Columbia this school year and last were indisputably the saddest days of my life.
I know that once I get there, it will be fine. I know that I have to go back. I know that four months will go quickly. I know that I am so close to being done. I know that I want to finish this degree. I know that I have friends there whom I love and miss and think about often. I know that I have gotten a nice, long break and still have more time at home before I have to leave.Still, though, I want to stay here. I want to curl up and pretend that I don't have to be a grown-up, that none of my friends have married and moved away, that no one's getting older, that goodbyes are the furthest thing from my mind. Or I want to go back to Asbury and live in the dorms. It's crazy now to think that there was a four-year period of time when so many people I love, who are now spread out all over the country and the world, were all together in the same place. That sounds like an absolute dream. I think I am homesick for heaven.