I can see the finish line of the race.
My ship is sailing into the harbor.
I’ve read the whole story of this year, and I’m about to place the book on the shelf.
Perhaps I’m being a tad melodramatic. Okay- a LOT melodramatic. The summer is only two months long, and before I know it, I’ll be pulling my tennis shoes back on, heading back out to sea, and sharpening my pencil to continue writing. But it will be entirely different. It won’t be my freshman year; it won’t be new and different. I won’t be shaking with anxiety and excitement as I paste up pictures of the people I left behind. I won’t wander around for an extra hour because I’m terrible with directions and don’t know my way around. I won’t cry when my parents drop me off.
I’ll fall back into the familiar routines this year has been so good to give me. I’ll know how to get where I’m going.
But the thought of leaving this year behind to make new memories actually brings tears to my eyes. I’m not ready! I don’t want to leave! I want to walk these sidewalks a few more weeks!
And what about the people? It’s a startling idea that even though we’ve gotten so used to seeing each other every day, that we know each other’s quirks and that we were the ones who threw birthday parties and dried tears and rejoiced when they rejoiced and color the memories of their past months- they will leave. I will leave. We will scatter back home. But wait…this is home. They are my family. This place, with its books and its flowers and its people- it is my life. And so you’re asking me to take on an entirely different life for two months. Don’t worry! It’s one you used to have! You lived it! Go back to it!
Go back? But I’m not the me who lived that life. And I love it here. (Cue a trembling lip and tear-filled eyes.)
I suppose I shouldn’t complain. I’m getting two months full of sunshine and beaches and breaks. I’m going to get two months of family memories and starry nights and ice cream sundaes. It won’t be quite the tragedy I’m making it out to be. But the truth is, when I come back, things will be completely different. I won’t live in Riverside East; in fact, I’ll live in an apartment for the next three years and soon, dorm life will reside somewhere in my hazy memory about what I did once for a few months. I’ll live with my best friends, which is such a blessing; but I won’t live with these roommates who turned out to be, well, some of my best friends. I’ll be able to actually shave my legs in the shower, but I won’t get to joke about how difficult it is to shave my legs in this shower. (Sadly, I won’t be able to use that as an excuse for why I haven’t shaved my legs in a week, either.) I won’t be able to hang out at Sarah’s until 2 a.m. and then pad upstairs to my bedroom. I won’t get to leap into bed at night anymore, or start my day by leaping out of it. I’m sitting here in my room right now, and looking around, my heart already longs for it in six months.
Mostly, I am thankful. I am so incredibly lucky that I am one of the people who don’t want to go home simply because this place took me in and wrapped me up and became home in every way possible. I am more fortunate than I know that there was a group of people who wouldn’t be complete unless I was a part of them, and they welcomed me with bright smiles and snuggly hugs and understanding hearts. And even though it’s mostly over, even though finals are upon us and it’s time to start thinking about packing up and going back to where we came from, I get to come back. I get to unpack those boxes and settle back in. I get to call up those lovely people and have them over for dinner, and they will love me just the same, even though they’ve spent their summers miles away from me in Peru or Alabama or England or Texas. And I just know that next year has fun and laughter and knowledge just waiting for me to soak it up.
But I hope I never, ever forget this year.
What a wonderful year it has been.