Finals finished. I cannot explain how tired we all were. There’s something about the end of the semester, not only are you probably deprived of sleep, but you’re probably at a point of deep weariness in both body and spirit. I was at that point. I had a couple days before I went home. I didn’t realize how much I needed those days. I found a Bollywood movie on Netflix and re-watched part of a favorite independent film. I found myself wandering around the park with friends, reading for leisure, journaling to make sense of my thoughts, and beginning to take a deep breath again. Those days before we began the trek back home were worth a great deal to me.
For me, back home is in the Midwest, Indiana specifically. My mom picked me up, moving my ridiculous collection of books into our car. My mom is pretty awesome, I might add. She encouraged me to come out here for school, and she and my dad believed that I could do it. The older I get, the more I appreciate my parents.
Then we began the drive. I’ve gotten home in a variety of unique ways throughout college. One time I caught a ride to Ohio with some upperclassmen and spent eight hours listening to their top 40 music and hilarious stories. Another time I took an eighteen-hour train ride with some friends (we got hungry and had pizza delivered to one of our stops), and other times I flew back from Laguardia on cheap flights my dad had found.
This time my mom picked me up and we drove home. I know that drive. We can tally up the states we pass through–New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and finally Indiana. In Jersey we have to remember that you can’t pump your gas. In Pennsylvania the highway winds through the fog and forest of a state I’ve always considered definite and yet mysterious. In Ohio, we pass by this exit that is right by my Grandparents’ house. We always stop for the night. My grandparents have lived at least a state away my entire life, and one of the perks of going to NY for school was being able to see them more often. My grandma is funny. She always has a ton of food set out for us–even if we show up at 10pm. My grandparents are pretty cool people, godly people who have shaped my life, and they’re the kind of people who know the value of sharing stories and very loud laughter. They are also passionate about the game of three-thirteen.
We leave their place the next morning, continuing the trek back. I recognize landmarks now, the fields tilled in spring, grain bins, rows of cattle, white houses edging on vast landscapes of farmland, all of this is my visual echo of home.
Eventually, we turn into my street, and pull into an asphalt driveway. We are home. Again, this drive has been so valuable to me over the last few years. Sometimes it’s been hard to know where I really belong; there are people I love out East and people I love who still live back in the Midwest. My professional life has shifted more towards New York, but I can never forget my roots and memories of Midwestern fields and husking corn in the afternoon heat with my family, the whistle of evening trains outside my window, and the growth of corn in July. I cannot forget my roots.
Dear readers, this is my call to you. I don’t know where you are this summer. You might be two blocks from school, or it might be in the wilds of Montana. Now that you’re in college, you’re probably going to question where you really fit in, where’s your place. That’s okay, but my call to you is to be present where you are no matter the questions. Grow roots even if it’s only for four months in a summer. God still works in weird, awkward times–even in weird times like summer break. Some of you are going to have summers full of difficulty. Some of you are going to have the best summer of your lives. Whatever your summer is, keep moving, keep praying, keep yourself in Scripture, and keep being present where God has placed you for these next months.
See you all back at school.