Here and There

"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?

More hellos, please.

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Back home in Kentucky once again.

Leaving Missouri tore me up. I snapped this photo of an intersection on Mizzou's campus on the day after I finished my schoolwork, which also happened to be the day before I started packing up all of my stuff to head home. That whole last week in Missouri was so painful. I just kept crying because I dreaded the pending goodbyes. I wish Missouri and Kentucky could be as close as those street signs make them look.

Grad school is funny because, if you're in a two-year program like mine, you basically go straight from being a freshman to being a senior. Leaving Asbury was heart-wrenching for me, and the anticipation of moving to a new state by myself was also pretty miserable, but I looked forward to staying put for a while. I liked the idea of being at the beginning of something rather than the end.

But now I feel like I'm about to enter senior year again. And it came so soon. I'm looking at next year and anticipating more goodbyes. All the people I love there — and there are so many more than I ever expected — are people I'm going to say goodbye to.

Being home this week has been wonderful because I've gotten to catch up with some of my much missed home girlies. I started calling my high school friends that on this blog to differentiate between them and my college friends, a.k.a. school girlies. But almost none of my "home" girlies actually live at home anymore.

We all used to be within a 15-minute drive from each other, but now we're scattered — the farthest of us no closer than 15 hours from each other.

Despite our scattered-ness, we're all excitedly gearing up for best friend Kristina's August wedding. She'll be the fourth of our little group of nine to get married since 2010, and after her wedding she'll be moving to Ohio. So I will savor this summer, the last one when she'll be just a three-block walk (or a 30-second drive) from my house.

When I had only one year left in college, I knew I was headed to grad school. That summer I visited Mizzou and VCU and UGA and UNC and WVU. I was making plans. Now with one year left in grad school, I have no idea what I'm doing afterward. All I know is that I hate the idea of moving again. But avoiding a move leaves me only two options: stay in Columbia or stay in Lexington.

Many of my Columbia friends aren't planning to stay there longer than one more year anyway. A couple of my closest COMO friends won't even be there when I get back in August. And, as stated above, my home friends aren't exactly sticking around either.

I have a feeling that both cities will feel the way Asbury's campus feels now. I've been back to Asbury a few times since leaving last May, and though I love seeing the friends who are still there, the vast majority of people I knew there are gone. It's simultaneously like: Oh, how I miss this place! and But where is everybody?

At the end of senior year, our friend group wrote each other letters to be opened one year later. Abby kept them and early this month mailed us each envelopes full of year-old letters from our friends. And here's my confession: I haven't opened mine yet. I'm afraid that I can't handle how much more it will make me miss everyone. I already miss everyone so much.

I am experiencing what my mom calls "nice problems." My heart hurts because I love so many people and can't be with all of them. It hurts because I love so many places and can't be in all of them. I realize that these are, arguably, the best types of problems to have. What's far more sad is when people don't have other people to love at all.

Still, I wish I could stop everyone from spreading any farther apart. It's like Charles Schulz said:

“Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say goodbye. I hate goodbyes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.”

You and me both, Charles.

Burning Out Again

Today would've been a perfect day for a run, but I settled for a walk. I had this sunset for scenery and Switchfoot for my soundtrack. Their lyrics seemed quite appropriate for the situation. Remember earlier this month when I said that "it seems like whenever I tell someone I'm doing better, I start doing worse again"? Check and check.

I've got a wound that doesn't heal

burning out again, burning out again

I'm not sure which of me is real,

and I'm alone again, burning out again

My hope runs underneath it all,

The day that I'll be home

It won't be long, I belong

Somewhere past the setting sun

Finally free, finally strong,

Somewhere back where I belong

Switchfoot, "The Setting Sun"