This is a dangerous time for me every year. We live across the street from a college, not just any college - The College I went to and loved. Because of this, I mark my seasons by the College's activities. I can still feel the rhythm of it: I know the parades of yellow t-shirts during orientation, the sounds of the bands during football season, huge lines at the delis during homecoming, singing from the Wren during Yule Log, and laughter all night long during Blow Out. Because we share the street with students I see these events play out in front of me year after year. And thus the danger: I trick myself into thinking I'm still a part of it. It's embarassing.
For some reason, my greatest weakness comes at Move -In time. There I am with my stroller, giving directions to dorms, encouraging smiles to lost students, explanations to hot and angry parents. I'm like the Tour Guide who never left. Clinging to her past and her hard-earned skills in walking backwards. I'm a freak.
I felt myself slipping again today as I talked to my new neighbor down the street. She's a senior, here early to help with orientation. There I am chasing Sophia, who is chasing Diego, trying to keep Foo from eating rocks, saying offhandedly, "Well, I graduated in '07." Then I stopped myself, no I didn't. Ruthie graduated in '07. I graduated in 03! Seven years ago! I moved in eleven years ago! I saw the truth in her polite smile. It doesn't matter. I might as well have gone to Ohio State. I have made the swift, inevitable descent into (shudder) irrelevancy. She laughed and said, "Yeah, that was the year I graduated elementary school." Thanks for that.
I recovered awkwardly and admitted "It just doesn't feel that long ago." So, in case she had any doubts left I completely assured her I was old by that line. Then I simply pointed to where I lived and said that to come by if she ever needed anything, or wanted to see children or be in a home. One of my dearest friends to this day invited me to her house once a week while I was in college. I saw her interact with her family and prepare food without using a George Foreman Grill. Being in her home on a regular basis balanced me in a really fragile, angsty time. Sometimes 18-22 year olds don't hold all the answers, yet they don't realize this and that can be exhausting.
I have a quote I stuck to the side of my refrigerator. I spend more time than I like to admit at that kitchen sink so I have learned that's the place to put something if I want to look at it often - or at all. I confess to yanking it from Stephanie's blog. (Thanks Stephanie!)
"The adventure of faith begins with faithfulness. Being faithful is taking responsibility for the good we know to do. It is about treating even the small tasks before us as important and worth our best effort. Faithfulness is God's kingdom pathway to greater opportunity, responsibility and adventure. - Chasing Daylight
It seems my life these days is a series of very small tasks - lots and lots and lots of them. But I am taking responsibility for the good I know to do. Right now. In this season - not seven years ago, not ten years from now. I am sometimes discontent with the lack of glamor and prestige and measurable progress. But this is the good I know to do. And maybe if I continue to be faithful here, it will expand onto my street and to my neighbors. Perhaps I have something different to offer, even better, than I would have had back in my collegiate days of glory. But I'm still secretly grateful we'll be away at a wedding when those 1500 new students arrive on Friday. I need to move on with my life. I just have to trust that they'll be able to find their way around without me...