I’ll Be Back: Thoughts on Leaving

The last few days have been a whirlwind of paper-writing, packing, and tearful goodbyes. I am writing this from the front seat of my car: my little brother and I are currently 700-something miles into a cross-country trek back to Texas, although by the time I post this, I will likely already be home, as I doubt I’ll have internet access before then.

Still, I have a lot of time to reflect during my stints in the passenger seat, and it seemed appropriate that I write one last blog post to wrap up the year before I drop off the face of the earth until January 2014. (Oh, and on a more logistical note, if you actually read this blog regularly – or as regularly as is possible with my posting schedule – you should note that I won’t be posting here while I’m abroad. I’ll be running an abroad blog, though, so I’ll put the link up here when that’s created.)

This year was intense. It was intense in every way: intense workload, intense stress, intense emotions, intense experiences. I don’t mean to say that it was bad – I felt intensely happy for huge chunks of it. But everything about it was powerful.

I am still undecided how I feel about returning to Houston. Last night, when I was near tears on the floor of my dorm room, having just ripped my dress and realized how much packing and writing I still had left to do before I could rest, I would have told you that it was all that I wanted. Now, though, with the car packed and my paper submitted, I’m unsure. Don’t get me wrong: I can’t wait to get back to Houston and see my friends and family and have a chance to take a few deep breaths and decompress.

But it’s starting to hit me that I won’t be headed back to Wooster until January. For the less math-savvy (a group of which I am a part), that’s eight months. Eight months is two thirds of the year. It’s a long time.

And here’s the thing: I know that it’s actually not. Eight months, in the grand scheme of things, is a twitch. It’s a heartbeat, or the blink of an eye. It’s any number of miniscule, unimportant time increments that makes up barely a fraction of the rest of my life. But it matters.

Eight months matters because I have made such incredible connections with such marvelous people, that I can’t fathom even three months without them, much less eight. I never expected, when I drove up to Wooster for the first time in August of 2011, that I would fall in love with it so much. The people, the school, everything – I love it more than I ever would have imagined. It just fits.

This past year especially has highlighted that for me. When I came back last August, I was apprehensive. I had missed an entire semester of people bonding and building relationships and I was going to be just jumping back in and I didn’t know if people would remember me or like me and it was scary.

Before I could even articulate my fears, however, I found out that they were unfounded. My two best friends – incredible ladies who have been with me through thick and thin – pulled me back into the swing of things with huge hugs, and they helped me integrate into an incredible group of friends who accepted and loved me for the uncertain, unorganized mess that I was. I immediately felt like I belonged. It was wonderful.

Then came Theta. Pledging tossed me into the mix with thirteen other girls, twelve of whom I didn’t know. We came out of it incredibly close, and we tumbled right into a group of fifty amazing, accomplished women who welcomed us with open arms and beautiful smiles. Suddenly, I had this incredible web of support everywhere I turned to look, and it was great.

Over the course of the semester, I have gotten close with so many people. I have loved much and often. So many of the relationships that I have formed are just in the beginning stages, and yet they are still incredibly strong and close.

And that’s why I’m torn about going abroad. Don’t get me wrong – I am BEYOND excited. South America is probably my favorite continent, and I can’t wait to experience Chile. I’m excited to learn and live and speak Spanish. But it’s unfathomable to imagine that I’m going to be apart from these wonderful people for more than eight months (or more than fifteen, for some people who are going abroad in the spring).

My saving grace is the knowledge that it won’t change things. Sure, I will change and so will they, but the marvelous part about all of my wonderful friends is that our relationships are so strong that they can survive this. We will Skype and write letters and sometimes miss each other until it hurts, but in the end, we’ll be back together again and it will feel great.

I also need to do this – I’ve wanted to go abroad since I was a kid – and being apart will just add another facet to my relationships. It will teach me how to remain in contact, and how to be myself even without that immediate support to turn to, although I know it will always be there if I need it.

Anyway, I’m sorry if this entry is a bit disorganized and all over the place – it’s been written over a period of three days, so it might not all hang together perfectly. Suffice to say that the next eight months are going to be an incredible adventure, and I couldn’t be more excited, despite my sadness at leaving some truly life-changing people. It’s okay, though. I’ll be back.

P.S. I will be uploading a photo highlight reel of the year at some point later today. Stay tuned!

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