It wasn’t everything I owned, but it was everything I thought I needed, packed into two suitcases. One neon green, the other fuchsia pink, I kept them as close as possible in my own little corner of the airport arrivals, fiddling with the unfamiliar Albertan address. Somehow I’d gotten the dates mixed up, and had arrived a day early, but Student Life had assured me they’d send someone from the university to pick me up. Meanwhile, it had been nearly a half hour of tapping my feet against the floor and occasionally touching the tiny, 7-11 cellphone in my pocket that, without any internet or number to call, was next to useless in my current situation.
It was a rather nerve-wracking start to an adventure, but an adventure nonetheless.
This was something I had been waiting several months for. Ever since I had decided to go to school in Edmonton, I was the stereotypical high school graduate, anxious to get out of my hometown and head west, playing Paul Brandt on my ipod with a passport in my pocket, forgetting all that I was about to leave behind.
Instead I was here to start over, try again, and figure out what it really was that I wanted out of life, outside of the familiar fences I’d grown up with. The majority of my company for the past 18 years followed a predictable pattern of school and church, and I was ready for a new set of faces. I loved those from my circle and would miss them dearly, but if I was ever going to do it, now was the time. And despite the rather lonely welcome into Wild Rose Country, I was still just as excited.
The first time our entire girls’ floor in Residence came together, it was a classic mish-mash of pyjama pants, anxiety, and mugfuls of candy; It was “two truths and a lie”, outrageous laughter, and the beginning of some pretty beautiful friendships. “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” our leader asked, and we all rolled our eyes in that adolescent manner that said ten years was a lifetime away.
A lifetime away?
I had an idea of what could happen with this decision to move out of province, but I certainly didn’t look for it. And I definitely didn’t realize the value in the community that I would encounter, the people I would fall in the love with, or the 7 different addresses, two degrees, Alberta license, teaching certificate, 3 schools, wedding, and a baby that would now be such a vital part of who I have become.
What a “lifetime” it’s been.
I’m back at the same airport, almost exactly ten years later, this time headed east. There have been dozens of trips back and forth over the years, but I’ve still got the same two suitcases – the pink a little duller, the green now sporting a broken handle. I’m not alone anymore, with my Albertan husband by my side, holding our 6.5 month old baby girl as she travels on her first flight to see her Ontario family.
Just like that, it’s been ten years, and I’m watching calendars instead of clocks, realizing just how precious time really is… yet still ignorant of so much more I am to learn in the next ten.
But I’m guessing I’ll have different suitcases by then.
And I’m guessing that God will continue to stretch and grow me over even more mountains than I can imagine.
We all come to those moments of “full circle”, when we are given the rare chance to see how far we’ve come, and realize how far we’ve yet to go, all at the same time. It’s the “bend in the road” of my Anne of Green Gables Days, and the “narrow gate” of the New Testament, setting a finished novel up on the shelf only to grab the next one in the series… impatient to see what’s going to happen next.
I’m currently on a return of my original journey, re-defining family (yet again), and re-placing home (once more), so these moments of reflection and memories are becoming even more dear to me. It’s like I’m in a maze between finding a way home, and trying to remember the way back, so it often feels like a haphazard mess with every step. It is, once again, a rather nerve-wracking start to an adventure, but an adventure nonetheless
But I can tell I’m getting older, because I just want to sit down, stretch my legs, and stop carrying around the same two suitcases. I want the next “lifetime” to involve less moving, and more cherishing; maybe a few less addresses, but a lot more hugs.
Definitely more hugs.
Because I know that, just like that, it’ll be another ten years… and time to start the next nerve-wracking adventure. <3