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What Now?

I recently graduated. I am an alumna. Oh, that's weird, I don't know if I like that just yet.

On Saturday night, I said goodbye to being a student at my school of 13 years, as well as the people I grew up with. I've been on campus since my brother started kindergarten in 2007, so it's been a long ride. I am now bound for Lee University in early August, but until then...

I have plans, big plans, for this summer. I have a hammock and money to buy a kite and a big thing of bubbles. I have an airbnb booked in July for some friends and I at the beach. I will revert to childhood and practice the tasks of adults. I have plans to learn how to cook and maybe dance (something other than ballroom dancing, thank you very much). I will visit all sorts of different churches that actually have natural light in the sanctuary and I will introduce myself to the people there. I will learn what to look for in a church home. I will learn how to have a conversation with a stranger where it 1) doesn't somehow lead to me bringing up a philosophical subject I learned in school, 2) doesn't involve me accidentally oversharing two minutes into the conversation, and 3) doesn't occur while I am only thinking of my bed and books. Furthermore, I will read books that aren't required by my oh so familiar alma mater. I will not do math more complicated than addition and subtraction.

But I will worry.

Clearly, I don't have any issues with bubbles as such, but I have lived in one for the past fifteen years. The bubble changed shape, color, and stopped a few places along the way, but it was still my bubble. It's not a bad thing, but I can't help but feel like the little people in Horton Hears a Who. The people of the world outside my school and neighborhood are about to meet me. I'm torn between celebrating this new place I have as an adult in society and wanting to send someone Paul Revere-esque to go warn them; dearest world, take this for what it is and do with it what you will, but Emily would like to participate now, so if you could please be civil, that would be great because she's jumpy as an unbroken horse. Oh, man.

I have my fears, but I just keep slipping back into the reality of the situation that is August 12, 2022. My parents are going to leave me in Tennessee and I will be overjoyed and heartbroken.

But I really think it all comes down to the little things for me. I have already met and been in contact with my literature professor, whose mannerisms and style resemble a few of my most favorite humanities teachers, so I have that going for my day to day. But I won't have the gallery wall I eyeballed last summer. I won't have a lovely half-hour drive to bring anyone pie (if you want one, please let me know, I have so much free time and nothing to fill it with). I won't have all of my books at my disposal; I know I have the library, but I'm pretty sure annotating Lee University's copy of Hamlet is frowned upon. Biggest of all for me, I won't be familiar enough with anyone to where I can walk up and silently demand a hug. Hugs are individualized. It's different with all my friends and family and none of them will be there.

So I am determined to practice the people stuff this summer! You know, the kind of stuff that goes deeper than "cash or card" or "do you want whipped cream on your hot chocolate or your muffin warmed up?"

I have so many people to thank and so many things I could list that I anticipate missing in a few months. But if you're reading this, the chances are you're one of those people that I will miss, some with an ache. Nothing is ever quite like you imagine. I was late throwing my cap, I didn't take nearly enough pictures, I have yet to call my Worldview teacher by his first name, and I don't remember anything about walking across the stage. So God, in this season of imagining, let my grandest vision of my life be that you are at the throne of it. Let contentment be my keepsake and kindness be my vow. Let a "cloud of witnesses" be my company, and I will have no fear in discomfort. Be my God, and I am whole.

I threw my cap and got the paper. Here we go.

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