The college I went to was all women, and friendships and relationships there felt like a sisterhood. In those first few weeks as a college freshman, I was so thrilled and excited by my new life that I was barely interested in eating—my jeans were baggy around my waist; I couldn’t wait to get to the next activity or hang out with friends. There was such a feeling of newness unfolding around me everywhere, of adventure, of excitement, of me being able to own who I was and what I was going to do with my life.
Through successive years, that never went away. I loved every moment, every experience, every class, every teacher. I’ve often thought that if I could stay in college forever, I would have. (Aside from cafeteria food and communal showers.)
This past weekend, two of my closest friends from college and I met up for a reunion. It was a chance to catch up and go over old stories—many of which I seem to have blocked out, starring me (mostly at concerts) being brazen and bold. (Am I still that girl?) On Sunday, two of us went to an alumnae reception to honor our now-retired favorite English professor, a woman who pretty much defined my academic college career. Not only did she help establish my standards of excellence, but she also threw her all into being a role model outside of class, the epitome of confidence, professionalism, and decorum. As an English teacher myself, I have often summoned her in both my preparation and presentation, thought of her often, kept in touch, and tried to do my best to channel her energy and her ideals so that I could have as positive effect on my students as she had on me. (I don’t think I ever got there.)
On the same day, the cousin who was flower girl in my wedding had a graduation party to celebrate the end of high school and beginning of college in August. My son starts summer camp today, where he knows no one and will hopefully make a bunch of new friends. And I, of course, am waiting for this baby in my belly to stop elbowing and kneeing me in the ribs and come out already and join our family, which is exciting and scary at the same time.
Life is in so much transition, with so much up in the air, so many endings and beginnings, so many moments of happiness mixed with anxiety and stress and fear. All I can really do is sit and marvel at how quickly time passes, how rich my life has become as a result of so many beautiful and deep emotional experiences. I don’t feel sad, necessarily—I’m more stunned by all of it, how things happen at their own pace, how little control I have, how we all close and open doors constantly in our lives and can have a profound effect on the people around us.
I only hope that I can do my best to be in the present moment in each stage of my life, to acknowledge the vastness of human experience as well as my individual blessings, and to hold all these people and moments—as Quakers say—in the light, deep in my heart, carry them with me wherever I go.
*Sorry for not writing more on this blog. My time is very consumed with kids, family, and editing/running The First Day.)
Image: “Rosemont College” by Tom Ipri via Flickr.