I don’t know if this is the blog post, the one that they told me they looked forward to reading. They, my dorm staff, said it in the kitchen of one of my favorite buildings in the world. I think I laughed shyly; I guzzled cold coffee in unfinished makeup, holding my heels and a half-eaten croissant in my other hand.
The blog post about graduation, I mean. That was the morning of grad. And this is kind of sort of almost that post.
That morning in the kitchen felt normal, like a hundred early mornings before it. People were rushing in various stages of preparedness, asking about shoes or hair or printer paper. Everyone greets everyone and teases in a way that only sharp wit, deep love, a couple years of history and lots of excitement can bring out. There’s this feeling buzzing, a mix of pride and sadness that’s bittersweet but mostly sweet.
I remarked then that it kind of felt like my birthday: celebration, anticipation and the knowledge that today is special and today you are particularly special; but also the nerves that come with being the center of attention. I don’t particularly like my own birthday. Excessive socially mandated affirmation and ceremony are not my love language. I’m a much bigger fan of coffee.
Which is perhaps why I find myself drinking a fourth cup as I try to reflect on grad. I’m not really sure what to say or how to say it.
I could tell you how I felt: awkward, mostly. Not sure what to do with my hands or my face or how obvious it was to the audience that I was uncomfortable. I wondered if my shoes were too loud, if people noticed that I dropped things and forgot to shake hands and stumbled over my words. I was also very afraid I would need to pee. Like I said, pomp and circumstance is not my forte.
But I was honored, deeply so. And felt loved. Or rather, I felt like people were proud of me. And maybe, in some ways, that’s better.
I could tell you the things that happened around it: the packing that felt particularly solemn. The prayers I asked for and craved and sometimes cried through. The affirmations that meant that we are friends and you mean a lot to me and thank you. The conversations in which no one said it but this was the last time we’ll ever speak. That’s not a word I say out loud a lot, goodbye. At least, not in any meaningful way. The same with I love you. That’s a thing that’s easy to say, and I say it too much. I don’t always mean it the way I should. I said it a couple times that day, and it was the truest thing I knew. Ernest Hemingway says that that’s the best thing to say. And when words failed, I hugged. I’m not a hugger, but I held on tight. There are pictures. Lots of pictures with lots of people I care about. And more people without pictures.
I could tell you what happened after: listening to Switchfoot’s Twenty-Four over and over and over again because life is not what I thought it was rang so true. The walks I took down paths by the creek, remembering coffee and ice cream and dinner and conversations. Talking about what we know about Jesus and what comes next. How it felt at once totally normal and totally wrong. The fires, the games that we made up. The times I wondered how was this even real life. The times I said “see ya!” when I’ll probably never see them again. The times I said “see ya!” and hoped it’s true. The trek down the hill at daybreak and waiting for a ride in the same place I waited for the bus.
I could tell you what’s happened since: lots of airplane rides and suitcases and feeling bored and busy at the same time. Learning to be independent and an adult and procrastinating things that are important. Seeing friends and meeting strangers. Desperately hoping that I can be their friend and they mine. Missing what and whom and how I had it. I often find myself seeking comfort and solace in the pages of books that remind me of the goodness of God, the beauty and necessity of other people, and that crazy is okay. Figuring out what Jesus looks like in the real world, on my own time, and how to find more of him. There are good days and bad days and days I can’t decide. It doesn’t feel all that different. I don’t feel all that different.
That’s why this is so hard to write, I suppose. It feels like it should be important or significant somehow. But I don’t feel like I’m any wiser than I was two weeks ago. I’m excited and afraid and proud and tired and grateful and restless and lonely and confused and ready all at once. I’m kind of sort of almost an adult, but I’m kind of sort of almost still a kid. It’s summer break, but it’s also the beginning of life in the “real world”– or at least college, which is apparently realer than anything I’ve known.
But that’s not here yet.
So here’s to kind of sort of almost maybe growing up. Eventually. I guess.