(First things first: Go vote, y’all. And after you vote, feel free to buy me a box of Kleenex, as I guarantee I will be weeping tears of joy tomorrow when I watch the morning news and see ads for car dealerships, furniture stores, ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING but the six people running for seats in the House from Chicagoland. It was one thing when the ads were all, “Vote for me! I <3 America!” but it became a completely different thing about a month ago when the ads changed to “Vote for me! MY OPPONENT IS SATAN AND HERE’S WHY.” Ugh.)
On Saturday, I entered a season of life I plan to loving refer to as, “That four-week period where I never unpacked my suitcase,” or, “How Union Station, Amtrak, and I became BFFs.” About six weeks ago, I realized I had an abundance of money on my hands, and, in trying to decide what I should do with all my newfound wealth, finally settled on throwing all of it at Amtrak, because goodness knows I didn’t want it.
In all seriousness, though, November is a crazy month of travel for me. I’ll be in Chicago exactly zero weekends this month. While I’m not exactly thrilled about this from a so-when-exactly-am-I-supposed-to-run-my-weekend-errands? standpoint, everything I’m traveling for is well, well worth the insanity. Plus, my soon-to-be-BFF Amtrak is psychic and knew I would be traveling like a madwoman for all of November, so they decided to offer double rewards points on all trips through the weekend before Thanksgiving. aka I’ll have earned a free ticket by next week. Aww yeah.
This past weekend was Trip #1: College Reunion of Love and Happiness.
Once upon a much more exciting time in my life, I was super involved in a student organization at my alma mater. Attempting to explain the student organization is a lot like a runner attempting to explain to a non-runner why they love running, which, I think most of you will agree, is a nearly impossible task.
Basically, this student organization facilitated a competition between freshmen and sophomore women. A select group of juniors and seniors, all former participants in the competition, form the leadership board for the organization. I participated both my freshman and sophomore years, fell wildly in love, applied to be on the leadership board, was selected, and essentially threw my heart, soul, and most of my free time into this student organization as a junior and senior.
This year’s competition was Saturday, and though I’m (tragically) no longer in college and thus no longer involved, I still went back to see the competition. Most of my good friends that are still in college are current members of the organization’s leadership, several of my good friends from the time I spent on the leadership board were also coming back for the show, and I had great-grandbabies to meet! There was no way I would’ve missed it.
As I somewhat alluded to on Friday, last week was not so hot for me. From a relational standpoint, it felt like everything was going wrong in my life and I just could not catch a break. Though I tend to err on the side of quiet, I’m a serious people person in the sense that I thrive on relationships, so bad relationship business = super sad Bethany. Saturday, then, was exactly what I needed. The hope of what would happen on Saturday kept me going all week, and I definitely was not disappointed. I finally felt like I was among people who understood me, people who cared about me, people who just wanted to love on me as much as I wanted to love on them, and after a week of feeling wholly deprived of those things, Saturday could not have been better. Being back where hugs are considered the standard and entirely socially acceptable way of greeting people was wonderful.
I really, really don’t want to be “that person”–you know, the person who spends all of their life wishing they were back in high school/college/any time that is not now. I don’t have anything wrong with occasional nostalgia, but y’all, I’ve seen “those people,” and it ain’t pretty. I’ve hung out with myself for 22 years + a little change now, and I know adjusting quickly to new situations has never been my forte. My last two years of college were out-of-the-park awesome. I had incredible friends, I had incredible experiences, and though I was always, always, always wildly busy, I would without hesitation trade every second of my current free time to be back in college.
I think what I miss most is the community. I’m convinced that there is no community like the community I had in college–not just my community of friends, but the community of the college in general. I miss passing people I know on the way to class and saying hi, I miss worshipping with 1000 of my peers, all of which came voluntarily, in chapel and Sunday night services, I miss coffee dates (oh, do I miss coffee dates. It’s been six months since I had a coffee date, and I used to be a once-every-four-to-six-weeks kind of coffee dater), I miss the sense of solidarity that comes from all being united under the same name.
I know if I were to go back to my college right now, it wouldn’t be the same–there are 900 people there I’ve never known, and 800 people that I did know who are no longer there–but just having a taste of that community again on Saturday showed me how much I feel like I’m lacking a community in Chicago. I realize a city of 2.7 million people can never be the same as a college of 3200 people, but I miss the sense of belonging that I had in college.
I realize, of course, these things don’t happen overnight. It took me two years to find my place and my people in college, and I certainly didn’t expect to have all of those things happen in the course of four months in Chicago (see: it takes me a long time to adjust to new things). These things take time, and I need to be patient. Regardless, it’s nice, if even for a short time, to be back somewhere where you feel like you belong.
What communities are you a part of?
How was your weekend?