I promised my high school sweetheart everything would be okay. We would stay together and when I came back from my first year of college to his senior year homecoming dance at our high school, everything would be exactly like it always was. But when I left his house and headed to OU for the first time with all of my stuff crammed in the mini van – my new comforter, my books, my clothes – everything – I knew our lives would never be the same. I sat in the front seat of the van and sobbed. I knew in the pit of my stomach, that something was about to change us forever – and that there was no way to stop that wave of change from pummeling us to the ground.
At this time in my life, I was just staring to see how there can be defining moments, instants that can change people forever. Sometimes changes come slowly, like cancer. It spreads from a funny spot on a person’s nose, to her cheek, then to all the other extremities and finally those vital organs. Those changes aren’t seen or even felt because they happen so gradually, but those slow changes can rock a person to her very soul.
Other times change happens fast; not overnight, but over a second. Like in the moment someone decides to drive drunk, or someone decides not to go to work that day. I remember the only time I ever told my mom I hated her. I remember screaming, “I hate you!” and slamming the door to my room – it took all of fifteen seconds – and then that feeling in the pit of my stomach. I don’t remember really why I yelled at her – I am sure it had to do with curfew or going somewhere – but I knew I could never take those words back. I know those words hurt my mom more than any slap to the face and it took some time for us to be okay again. Looking back, I know that those words changed our relationship, but I also know now how much stronger we are now.
As I drove up to Cleveland with Bryan, my boyfriend, this fall to move into my new apartment, in a new town, where I knew only my college friends and his, I felt that same intense feeling of change ripping through my very soul. For whatever reason, I knew my life would never ever be the same. But instead of sobbing in the front seat of that Dodge Caravan feeling scared and helpless, I felt that change and felt different. I felt moving up here to start my life I was making a promise to myself. This time it was a promise to let life happen and change happen. And for some uncertain reason it felt okay.
I’ve learned that instead of trying to keep everything the same, instead of maintaining the simple status quo, it’s okay to let go. It’s okay to let life happen. Now I know that when I feel like my life is changing that sometimes, when facing those changes, that fleeting fear has to be fought. I have to hold on to the parts of my life that are stable and just float. Float on for dear life.
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