this is the garden: colours come and go

As it goes, this post follows words about semesters one, two, three, four, and five.

Just like I’d hoped it would be, there are all sorts of feelings when I go back and read all of those recaps of those semesters. I was writing each one knowing that I’d want to remember, that even though the recollections were fresh and dewy as I put them into sentences, they would fade, and it would delight me to go back. Delight me it does (it also makes me laugh.) And so, I suppose it’s about time to put down this semester’s memories, before they grow foggy and I have to make things up. That wouldn’t be good.

I’ll have to do this one differently, because I’m different and this semester was different. I’ll have to tell you main ideas that were threaded through these weeks, big feelings that I carried around all five months. This one is odd because while I can’t believe it’s May, it also seems like January was a long time ago. And in the same breath, January couldn’t have been more than a few days ago! And this is how we do recollecting life: “Slow down! Hurry up! Where’d you go? I can’t wait. Five more days! I miss that already.” And me, well, I have a penchant for nostalgia.

Still, there’s a sense of longevity surrounding this semester, and I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe it’s because I was so acutely aware of the forthcoming changes; maybe I’d just done it enough times to know I’d better start paying better attention; maybe all the chocolate I ate had something to do with it. But the days seemed to stretch into endless weeks, and I found myself moving through the motions of each day, starting at 7, 8, 9 a.m., and going straight through, class-work-class-church, until there was homework and teeth-brushing and into-bed-collapsing. It sounds a little like elementary school, and also like being a grown up. Yikes.

Of course, lots of things happened that didn’t quite meet the on-the-blog standard (read: pertaining to me and not other people), which means it lives forever in my heart and in my journal and also in the ears of my entire bible study. And my heart will go on, of course. Fine, if you must know, this could be dubbed “the semester of the boys,” though I’ll let them make their own shout-outs, if they so desire. When it was all said and done, it seemed like there was a lot of my heart that was really content to stand still where it was, which didn’t seem to be the best decision for a long time. There were many a coffee talk with anyone who would listen about the positively terrible tumult called dating, and also about that lovely, light feeling that you get when things fall into place. I always seemed to be somewhere in between those, longingly looking back while unquestionably certain I should be moving forward. That feeling often halted me wherever I was, unsure of how to go about anything. So if you saw me walking across campus with a confused look on my face, you can now “mmhmm” and nod your head, because I bet you understand. All the same, I stood still until it felt right to take some baby steps; I prayed my face off and sought out wise counsel and called my mom six million times; I cajoled my heart and listened to my soul and eventually, I decided to stop until I was fresh again. To that, the Lord said, “Finally!” I don’t know if you could tell, but He’s been wooing me quite mightily.

“But now I am going to woo her—I will bring her out to the desert and I will speak to her heart.” —Hosea 2:14

Moreover, at times, I felt really far away from everyone, and I mean that logistically speaking. I was operating under a pretty strict schedule that went poetry class –> Starbucks –> work –> law class, or maybe work –> literature class –> Starbucks –> work, lather, rinse, repeat. And let me tell you what I did: I told the Lord all about it. I said, “I just feel far away from everyone. I don’t see my friends during the day, unless you count the snippets with Haley at work, or the five-minute conversation I had the Starbucks guy about my new haircut.” Right after that, people started showing up. That should be documented: I prayed this prayer, and God showed up. He sent His people, and by March, that feeling had transformed itself into some bright coffee dates and lunch meet-ups.

Ah! Finally! We got the real talk out of the way. After all that, I feel like it must be said that it a super semester, through and through. I did so much sun-soaking-up on the Gorgas steps that I thought I might turn into a ray of sunshine myself (not to worry, it didn’t happen.) I did so much coffee-drinking that I thought the Starbucks folks might start kicking me out at night (not to worry, it didn’t happen.) I read so much e.e. Cummings that I began conversing in rhymes (no, that really happened.)

Alongside all these things, there was awe being inspired still. For example, my best friend got a ring put on it (I get the feeling I should write about JaCo more often, because it was by far my most most-read post.)

Everybody (including me!) turned 21. Janie was all, “Finally!” (She’s about to turn 22. Try as I might, I cannot catch up with her.)

We spent our vacations at the lake and at the ocean, and I came back from those things bright and fresh again.

It must be said that it was our last full semester with Janie, and it must also be said that I had to write my way through it. (Twenty years from now, my heart will still tremor when reading those sentences.) I can’t say I won’t cry when I help her pack those boxes, but for now, I’m happy to watch her fly. And also, she’s just a Hackberry Drive drive away. That helps.

For every cup of coffee I drank, I tweeted about it three times.

In the end, it felt like it should be the end, and also like it’s only the beginning. Saying goodbye in parking lots isn’t really the way I like to spend my time; knowing they’ll be back for another round is plenty to get me through. The chapters of this semester seem to conclude nicely here, and I’m feeling fine and dandy with closing the book; on the other hand, it’s a story I’m sure I’ll return to, filling in the “the semester I learned _____” blank a million different ways. Mostly what I remember is all that sunshine, the way God dumped it down on me so many days. And I find myself loving this delightful place, with its dazzling people, all the more with every day. And I find myself loving Jesus, who keeps writing this story of me with adjectives I’d never think to dream up and place on my life, all the more with every moment. So it must be said: This was the semester that was perfect, in all of the most wonderfully imperfect ways.

And by the way, I’m a senior.

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