"I bet that in two years you won't wanna leave." Those were my dad's parting words as I said a tearful goodbye to him and my mom in a parking lot 19 months ago. They were heading back home to Kentucky, and I was staying in Missouri alone. Nothing had ever felt so unnatural to me. But he was right. He knew my heart. I fall hard for people and places. I love and don't want to let go. And here I am, three months from graduation, feeling like I haven't gotten enough time in this city, enough time with these people.
Last semester was rough. I was exhausted. I hated my classes. I missed my family. This semester I'm realizing that the finish line is in sight. This week in particular I have started to notice that the trees are budding, the birds are chirping, the days are getting longer. Spring is just around the corner, which means graduation is just around the corner. And I'm not ready for the imminent goodbyes.
Didn't I just go through that?
When I left Asbury, I left with 300 other people. If I had stayed, I would've stayed alone. It broke my heart to leave, but even if I'd had the option to stay, there would've been no reason for me to be there any more.
If I leave Columbia, I leave alone, and my community stays. I will take the memories that I made, and I will preserve them alone.
I've got a Ben Rector lyric stuck in my head: "And I find I am divided between here and there and you and them and me." Oh, that is how I feel. My family is in Kentucky. My home is in Kentucky. Most of my high school friends have scattered, but when they go home, they all go home to Kentucky. Most of my college friends have scattered, too, but we'll always have the Asbury campus — and Kentucky weddings, for the next few years — drawing us back.
But how can I leave Missouri knowing that life will go on here without me? If I leave Missouri, I most likely leave it for good. If I stay in Missouri and find a job, it won't be as it has been because I won't get four months each year to go back to Kentucky and reconnect and soak up home.
Oh, I wish God would just tell me what to do. I don't want to be the person who's paralyzed in fear, unwilling to do anything until God directs it. But I also have the sense that I don't even know what I want. I want both things. I want to be here, and I want to be there. I want to stop joining communities and then leaving them. I want to stop making memories that I alone will keep.
I could just stay for a while longer — a year maybe, or two if Jane comes to Mizzou. But is it worth it to prolong the inevitable? Would it be easier to rip the Band-Aid off now?