I am submitting this post for the Yeah Write challenge #62. It’s my first time. Be gentle.
This city shaped me.
This city helped me find the confidence I always knew I possessed but was too shy to display.
This city was my freedom from small town quicksand and protective parenting.
This city meant finding my direction, for better or worse.
This city was choosing the people I wanted to stumble along next to me for the next four years.
Back then, I didn’t know that those same people would stick firmly within the inner circle of my lifeweb. That I would stand with them in their weddings, kiss their children and cry with them at the graves of their parents.
We have traveled afar and returned home. We have tried and failed professionally, but stubbornly kept climbing. We’ve lived and loved since the diplomas now hanging in our offices were bestowed upon our cap and gown selves. We’ve gained and/or lost pounds, married and/or divorced spouses and decided to have/not have children. We have emailed, Facebooked, Skyped, Tweeted, texted and called.
This past weekend brought those treasured people together for one special night, in this city.
On Saturday my heart grinned with every hug, sang with every laugh I haven’t heard in years, and was tickled by every bit of affectionate teasing. I awww’ed over pictures of my friends’ children, shared my adventures of the past (eventful) year and even ran into an old boyfriend. He’s happily married with two beautiful girls, and his hugs still make me feel tiny. We were all discussing and catching up on the now, but memories swam as thickly through the room as the night’s humidity. It was special and it was glorious.
As I wistfully steered my car away from downtown the next morning, I took note of the newly painted facades next to the lovingly run-down traditions. I thought, “How can it look so different but still feel so familiar?” And it struck me. The truth is that no physical alteration of this town can diminish the magnitude of meaning that it holds for every person who has experienced its greatness.
It’s the people. It’s the bonds that were formed. It’s everything we went through together – the failures, the victories, the lessons, the heartbreaks – that shaped everything about the people we are today. It’s love. It is vibrant in its enormity. And inevitably it’s the letting go of this place that allows it to live on within us.
Regardless of your institutional affiliation, if you’ve experienced it, you know. You understand.
It’s a higher education.