It’s Tuesday night and I’m in cozy in my bed, wearing sweatpants that once belonged to someone else and feeling that wave of nostalgia that comes after taking a concentrated dose of “the good old days” in the “old stomping grounds”.
After spending the past weekend in Lakeland surrounded by my friends from college, most of whom have already graduated and begun building lives and chasing dreams (like myself), I can’t help but feel very overwhelmed by it all. I suppose it’s pretty typical to be emotional two years after walking across the big stage to receive my faux diploma, hoping I wouldn’t trip in the heels that I bought just for the occasion–very stupidly, since I barely (if ever) wore heels the entire time I was at school. But it seemed important at the time… like it was just something I should do. Thinking about it now I wish I just wore my moccasins because it was truer to who I am that that wobbly girl in heels galavanting across the stage.
And so, I made that drive this past Friday night. The all too familiar, comforting, boring drive up Florida highways, past fields of cows and through dinky little towns that unleashed all of my feelings and memories before I even laid eye upon people, some of whom I hadn’t seen in exactly two years.
The whole weekend was so good for my soul. I stayed up until the wee hours with girlfriends, and did semi-irresponsible late night drives to big cities, and bawled at weddings, and watched some of the last remaining friends I have graduate from Southeastern. The entire experience left me with this, not exactly joyful, not exactly saddening revelation that there is no going back. We can never live in one stage of our lives forever, no matter how comfortable or beautiful it seems or how much we may want to. There is nothing wrong with reminiscing, laughing until you cry over those stories with friends and then lovingly tucking them away into your heart as a treasure to be kept for always, and choosing to walk forward without regrets.
I could chose to keep regrets if I wanted. It’s not like any of us don’t have opportunity to grasp at the bad as well as the good in any situation, and absentmindedly take it with us.
That girl sobbing on the floor over a guy (again) who didn’t fit into the world she planned for herself,
that girl who missed opportunities for joy because she chose to see temporary sadness,
that girl who was insecure in her work as an artist with a story to tell because “other people could do it better”.
I could choose to keep that.
It was a part of who I was at the time.
But instead, I choose to take with me the ridiculously wonderful, totally amazing memories of me and some of my favorite people in the world, all pretending to be grown up and acting like we had it figured out because we were drinking our way (in coffee) through higher education, film sets and our attempts at love and our dedication to being there for one another:
College Stephanie is gone. She can’t stay up until 3 am driving with her best friend around Lake Hollingsworth after a full night at Starbucks. She can’t run around on set, high on caffeine or sit in her professor’s office to be encouraged about her directing for film project. She can’t pretend she’s a homeless person asleep in the backseat as she goes through the drive through at McDonalds, she can’t hold her sobbing friend who’s distraught over a boy, she cannot sit in chapel in her gauchos or race down El Prado to get to Film Appreciation (and still be late). She cannot cry over scripts or laugh over inside jokes or eat ramen in the mod with her bestie. She cannot have all the people she wants close to her, creating with her, living with her in the same carefree way she did back in her few semester, during (still) one of the most fun seasons of her life.
But she can remember it, look at it fondly, celebrate it with the same friends who are learning, as she is, to trek forward into new seasons of life called “adulthood” that somehow looks a lot like doing what you see others do and pretending that you know what you’re doing.
Some things never change.
But for all the things that do, I’m so thankful for the reality that Jesus is ever present and ever loving.
And so I sit here, thankful, tearful and yes, even a little emotional, that whatever happens and whatever I may feel about it all, that Jesus is my first and my last,
my future and my past.