My sophomore year of high school was my first year of real high school. And when I say real high school, I mean 5 days a week, 7 hours a day, lots of homework, maroon and gray uniforms, extracurriculars, pep rallies, the works. Very different from home school. So, I’m about halfway through first semester and I’m frustrated. Not because I’m having trouble making friends-I joined the speech and scrabble teams and pretended to not be the anti-social person Strawberry Shortcake insists I am-and not because my classes are really hard. Oh no. I was frustrated because I felt like I wasn’t learning anything. Take a minute-laugh at me. I was taking eight classes, doing my homework, studying for tests and I WASN’T LEARNING ANYTHING. Now, to my parents, this was a very serious issue. Not learning? After so many years of home school and the big decision to make the switch to real school-had they made a mistake? How could she not be learning?
Well, believe it or not, I was learning. Big shock, right? The reality of the situation was that the learning snuck up on me. I was doing projects and small group activities and worksheets-things that I had never done while homeschooled. Oh no. When homeschooled, I just read and wrote and took a lot of notes in class. There was no such thing as a “movement activity”. But truth be told, I was having a blast. And I knew school was fun, but I didn’t know it was this much fun. I LOVED REAL HIGH SCHOOL and I didn’t care who knew it. I could wear tennis shoes to school and no one cared. Real High School was my own personal heaven for the next three years.
So, what does this have to do with anything? A lot, actually. About eight months ago I wrote a post about the first three weeks of college. 21 days to make a habit? All the fantastic things that had happened? All the great things I KNEW I was learning. Well, guess what? I am three weeks away from the end of my first year of college. Three weeks tomorrow, actually. 21 days. But I don’t know what habit I’m going to be forming. Maybe a packing habit. A studying habit. A saying good-bye for three months habit. These next three weeks are the first three weeks in reverse. Instead of settling and adjusting and making friends, I’m packing and re-adjusting to life in the Bluegrass State rather than the Heart of Dixie and I’m saying good-bye to my amazing friends. It’s a whole different type of transitioning.
It’s interesting to think that for the next three-odd years, I’m going to be doing this back and forth thing at least three times a year. Hold on, let me count-Summer, Thanksgiving, Christmas, maybe Spring Break. Yep, at least three. I didn’t unpack my suitcase for Thanksgiving and Spring Break, and at Christmas, I used it for laundry. I love being home and I still feel that it is absolutely home, but Christmas was the only time in the past eight months that I’ve felt like I’m living there. I was home for ten days for Spring Break, but now that I’m back, it feels like I was only there for three days. It feels like I was never home. If I really think about it, I don’t even have a permanent home here at school. Every year, I’ll be in a different room, and even if I’m in the same room, I’ll still have to move out at the end of every year. I’m always moving back and forth. Okay, so the “always” and the “no permanent home” thing is wildly exaggerated, but that how I always feel after breaks-incredibly relieved to be staying in one place for a pretty long time. Going between my two homes involves either 5+ hours on planes and in airports or 10+ hours in car.
The staying in one place thing is pretty important to me. My favorite vacations are those in which my family stayed in pretty much one place for the whole time. This is not to say that I hated the year we spent 18 days traveling through South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana-on the contrary, it was one of the best trips of my life. But I also really enjoyed the week we spent in Chesapeake Bay-kayaking, bicycling, reading, watching “The Thin Man” movies and reruns of “Spin City”. It was pleasant to just spend time with my family when we all weren’t rushing around in different directions, or even the same direction-we just were. All together, at the same time.
I have a lot of goals in life: happiness, being a good person, making my family proud to be related to me, but I also like it when everyone I love is all together, at the same time. Now, because I live in two different states, the only way this is ever going to happen is if everyone moves to a mutually agreed upon location, like North Carolina or Idaho or Vermont, where we will live in peace and harmony for the rest of our days. And the chances of this happening…? Right. I thought so. I just need to accept that this will probably never happen. I just need to bloom where I’m planted. And looking back over the past eight months, I feel like I’ve done that. But then there’s that other old saying, “Home is where the heart is?” I always liked that. But now I don’t think it’s entirely relevant to my life. My home has always been the Bluegrass state and the biggest heart is there, but I also have so many hearts down in Alabama. What a conundrum.
So, the next three weeks. Liz Fudge and I have a joke that everything that happens to me either happened three weeks ago or will happen in three weeks. Three weeks just seems to be my go-to length of time. These three weeks are going to be such a whirlwind, but I think I’m up to the task. I certainly know that I’ve learned something. I can practically feel the learning seeping into me. I’ve analyzed, translated, symbolized, speechified, calculated, memorized, theologized, written and studied. I know I’ve learned from my classes, and I am absolutely convinced that I’ve learned from my environment. I know how to live in the same room as another person, I know how live on my own away from my parents, how to get myself up in the morning, how to take care of myself when I’m sick. I know I’ll learn even more in the next three weeks, because it’s not life if you’re not learning something every minute of every day. And because I try to live every minute of every day, I am positive I’m learning.
Learning my heart out,
I learned three important things in college – to use a library, to memorize quickly and visually, to drop asleep at any time given a horizontal surface and fifteen minutes. -Agnes DeMille, Dance to the Piper, 1952